The INTO Interview

How Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams brought ‘Cassandro’ to the silver screen

Cassandro tells the story of Saúl Armendáriz (Gael García Bernal), a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, Texas. While he makes it into the wrestling ring, his efforts go unnoticed, not until he becomes the exótico Cassandro. As Cassandro, Saúl goes from amateur wrestler to an international star known as the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.”

That same stardom was noticed by filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, who brought Cassandro’s story to the silver screen. Director and co-screenwriter of Cassandro, along with David Teague, Williams’ started with directing and production work on news networks like CNN, MSNBC, and BBC. However, his shift into documentary films proved to be immensely successful, garnering him the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film for his documentary short Music By Prudence – the first Black director to win an Academy Award. 

With over a decade of film work after his historic Oscar win, Williams is now bringing the narrative of a queer Latine icon to the masses. Starring Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla de la Rosa, Raúl Castillo, Joaquin Cosío, Bad Bunny, and luchador El Hijo del Santo, Cassandro is a touching story of identity, ambition, and authenticity. INTO spoke with Williams on how he came across Cassandro’s story and how Bernal was the perfect person to play the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.”

Cassandro is streaming now on Prime Video.

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