A Love Letter to San Francisco’s ‘La Mission’

BY Tom LeGro  April 23, 2010 at 12:16 PM EDT

When Peter and Benjamin Bratt grew up in San Francisco’s Mission district in the 1970’s, it was a neighborhood of Native American and Latino activists, low rider cars, Peruvian flute players, and vibrant murals that related the local history. And it is that Mission of their youth depicted in their feature film ‘La Mission.’ Written and directed by Peter Bratt and starring his younger brother, Benjamin (best known for his award-winning role as Det. Rey Curtis on NBC’s “Law & Order”), “La Mission” was a labor of love.

“Working with Benjamin on this film in this town, in this neighborhood, it was a life-long dream realized,” Bratt recently told Art Beat. “In many ways, this film is an homage and a love letter to a neighborhood that has and continues to inspire us.”

Named for the Spanish colonial Mission Dolores, the Mission is San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood. Since its inception in 1776, it has gone through many iterations, serving as a stopping point for successive waves of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Ireland, Mexico and eventually Central America. Today, the Mission retains its Latino character, but it has also become a magnet for hipsters and artists. Trendy restaurants, boutiques, galleries, independent books stores, dance and theatrical theaters are popping up everywhere.

“Sometimes I think the cultures borrow from one another, influence one another, inspire one another, and sometimes they collide. That was the case when we were young and sometimes, that’s the case now,” said Bratt.

Bratt discusses this and many of the other themes from “La Mission” in an interview with KQED’s Scott Shafer:

With contributions for camera from Rick Santangelo and audio from Helen Silvani.