A young man sits in his living room, waiting for his mother to fall asleep. Once she does so, he leaves and winds up at the house of a friend with the goal of boxing for money. This is the set-up to Mexican-American director Gerardo Maravilla’s short film Cross, now available to stream online.
Cross is a film with a foundational connection to Maravilla’s own life. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, in a high school with predominately Filipino and Latino students, Maravilla and his friends had little to do but box each other in their front yards. When he conjured up the idea for Cross he stuck with what he knew and kept his characters Filipino and Latino. Thus audiences are introduced to Cross (Jason Sistona), a young Filipino man who, with the help of his friend Salvador (played by Mexican-American actor Daniel Edward Mora), decides to take on a boxing gig to secure a purse to help his ill mother, who keeps a candle of the Virgen de Guadalupe near her.
Maravilla and crew capture the mundane elements of the Valley: the front yards where people congregate, the average cars. The distinction lies in the film’s leads, and how Cross’ Filipino background is sometimes at odds with the Latino community. When Salvador brings him to a backyard match, the Mexican organizer asks (in Spanish) if Cross is “Chinese.” Salvador corrects him, “No. He’s Filipino.” This scene is indicative of the complicated relationship between Filipinos and Latinos. Though the Philippine Islands were governed by Spain and the culture boasts many commonalities with Latinos – enough for them to be considered primos – Filipinos tend to identify as Asian. Cross’ big fight with a Latino opponent situates this continued struggle and desire to find an identity that bridges the two ethnic groups.