“Cuate” tells the story of two men, one African American and one Hispanic, from two very different worlds, with two very different life experiences behind them. It is a story of an unlikely friendship that develops when those two worlds are brought into alignment.
Zinoris “Zino” Mitchell is a young black male who is trying to stay focused keeping a good job and providing for his wife and children. He’s been out of prison for a year, after serving 7 years for drugs, and has too much to lose if he goes back. In order to keep on the straight and narrow, he works his “program” by daily, intensive exercise and keeping his eye on the prize.
Jose “Cuate’” Gonzales is a hard-working Mexican American who yearns to one day send one of the fighters he trains to the Olympics. He had a shot with his son Jaime, who was an exceptional fighter, but he ended up getting caught up in the gang life and being incarcerated. And with 2024 Summer Olympics being the last Olympics for boxing, this will be his last chance for the Gold Medal.
Realizing Zino’s potential to be a great fighter, a co-worker takes him to a boxing gym run by Cuate. But there is one catch, the gym is 100% Mexican and Cuate only speaks Spanish to his fighters. It’s here that Zino has to make a decision to step out of his comfort zone and to actually entertain the dream of becoming a fighter. He is met with disdain from the Mexican fighters in the gym and skepticism from Cuate. In this hostile environment, he must face his first challenge by winning over a room full of guys who don’t want anything to do with a black fighter. After a sparring match with Chuy, the gym’s top contender for the Olympic Gold medal, Zino’s boxing talent cannot be denied. He beats Chuy so thoroughly in an exhibition of skill and power that Cuate knows he has to train him.
And so begins the building of a relationship between trainer and boxer, older and younger, Black and Hispanic; different, yet somehow the same in many ways. Together, they fight towards a common goal of understanding and their desire to qualify for the Olympic Boxing team. And at Zino’s age it would be quite an underdog story. As the training progresses and the challenges mount, so does the toll on Zino’s non- boxing life. He is forced to make tough decisions with his work life, as well as his family life, knowing that if he makes the wrong choice it could lead to financial ruin, upend all of their lives and set him back on the path to prison.
Along the way, Zino faces temptations to leave Cuate’s gym from a slick African American fight promoter who tries to drive a wedge between him and the mentor he’s grown to trust. Racial tensions and biases are exploited, and Zino is forced to confront prejudices that threaten to keep him from Olympic Gold. As the biggest fight of his life nears, Zino must overcome everything that stands in his way. For himself. For his family. For Cuate.
Director of Photography
FFAM Group, LLC