September 6, 2002

“Come and Take It Day”

by Raymond R. Beltran

Take an old school Chicano, “a neo-hippie pachuco,” a college educated Latina, and a pocho, throw them in the middle of a plot to discover a lost treasure from the days of a legendary corrido, and you have Jim Mendiola’s “Come and Take It Day”.

Jesse (Jesse Borrego) and Miguel (Jacob Vargas). Photo by Ruben Ortiz Torres.

Set in Mendiola’s hometown of San Antonio, Texas in the year 2000, the film Come and Take It Day is a close look at four co-workers in a restaurant living in different class structures, coming from opposite Latino mind-sets, and how they perceive each other through their own personal experiences as Mexican Americans.

The story begins as the old school Chicano, Jesse (Jesse Borrego, Bound by Honor, Follow Me Home) discovers fascinating information about his family’s ties to the 20th century legendary Gregorio Cortez. In hurry, Jesse and his ”neo-hippie pachuco” cousin Miguel (Jacob Vargas, Selena, American Me) set off to uncover a lost treasure surrounding the legend of the late Cortez.

Suddenly the plan becomes intercepted by the college educated Latina, Nena (Maria Calendaria), and the pocho, Carlos (Rick Delgado). The plans change for the two cousins, and a history of bad blood begins to unfold between Jesse and Carlos. Betrayal and revenge become tied up in the plot and lead the story into a tragic unexpected ending.

When the characters come together, the diversity within Latino culture becomes evident. “I want to show that Mexican Americans are a lot more complicated than people perceive them to be,” says Mendiola, the 38-year-old writer and producer. “I wanted to step out of Hollywood. There’s a rich history in all the world.”

In the end, Come and Take It Day is just a good Latino story that will have you questioning your Mexican history and your own personal identity as a Latino. The film airs on KPBS on Sunday, Sept 8 at 11 p.m.

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