In the past four days I’ve hung out twice with actor Jeremy Ray Valdez, better known as the actor who plays Benjamin Bratt’s son in La Mission. On Thursday I spent an evening trailing him as a hired photographer at a benefit screening of La Mission. In between photographing Jeremy with attendees and donors at the event we got to chatting about La Mission and some burning questions I’ve had about it. I also met up with Jeremy this past Sunday at the SF Pride festival at the La Mission booth. Here’s the scoop on some mysteries of La Mission.
Mystery #1: Bootleg Flattery?
A couple of weeks ago I made a short video with Mission Loc@l’s Amanda Martinez contemplating the appropriateness of bootleg copies of La Mission being sold on Mission Street itself. Is a Mission bootleg the ultimate tribute to La Mission or are we ripping off hard working Latino directors and actors?
To get the answer I asked Jeremy what he thought of bootleg copies of La Mission being sold on Mission Street. He told me a story of an autograph session he did in the Mission District during Carnaval and how a young girl brought him a bootleg copy of the movie for him to autograph. Jeremy was highly offended at the thought of signing a bootleg copy of La Mission and expressed his extreme displeasure that Mission locals are pirating his work as an actor. According to him, bootlegs have a more adverse affect on smaller productions like La Mission as opposed to large big-budget Hollywood films.
Answer: It looks like the official word on the bootleg question is that Mission Street bootlegs of La Mission = bad.
Mystery #2: Is Che a Sureño?
The one thing that haunted me after seeing La Mission for the first time was Benjamin Bratt’s wardrobe in the film. His character, Che Rivera, wore a lot of blue throughout the whole movie. It left me wondering if there was an implied subtext that Che (and by extension his son) were Sureños. There’s no acknowledgment of the Mission’s color-coded terrain in the film and how much it weighs heavily on the minds of Latino residents of the neighborhood. To me, it bordered on offensive to have no recognition a Sureño character being a Sureño in the Mission District.
I asked Jeremy if Che and/or his son were intended to be Sureños and he answered absolutely not. He told me that Peter Bratt and the production crew were very conscious not to portray Norteños and Sureños in the film and that no character in the film was intended to be a former or current gang member.
Answer: Ain’t no colors in La Mission, blue Pendletons be damned.
Many thanks to Jeremy for solving these mysteries and for being so friendly on both days our paths crossed.