• Sundance Film Festival

  • Astra Film Awards

    Best International Actor
  • Telluride Film Festival

  • New York Latino Film Festival

Spanish Film Club
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Spanish with English subtitles

With Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla de la Rosa

Why you must-see this film. Because… is there anything cooler than having Gael García Bernal and reggaeton megastar Bad Bunny, directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, bring to life the real story behind the legendary Mexican American wrestler Cassandro? Because if you thought Cassandro was bigger than life, wait to see his real story on screen! And because you will be entertained and fired up by Mexican American culture!

Based on the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso, who rises to international stardom after he creates the character ‘Cassandro,’ the “Liberace of Lucha Libre.” In the process, he upends not just the macho wrestling world, but also his own life.

Directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, the film follows Saúl as he plugs away on the amateur circuit, in gaudy, neon-lit dives just across the border, but with his drab grey costume and his unprepossessing name – El Topo (or the Mole) – he’s not making much progress. But Saúl reinvents himself as the flamboyantly campy character of Cassandro. His new alter ego is an “exótico,” a wrestler who fights unmasked, wearing extravagant makeup and provocatively incorporating his gay sexual identity into his wrestling persona.

Starring Gaél García Bernal in one of the most iconic roles of his career, Cassandro is a giddily entertaining and celebratory drama that hints at the emotional bruises under the sparkly lurex leotard and false lashes to ultimately create space for unapologetically queer men in a male-dominated sport and society.


“Gael García Bernal nails his best role in years, giving a performance steeped in cheeky humor, resilience and radical self-belief... [An] entertaining biopic, [Cassandro] doubles as a gorgeous depiction of mother-son love and an exhilarating exploration of fearless queer identity in a macho environment.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“The gay hero you didn't know you needed (...) Ross Williams skillfully navigates clichés in this respectful biopic of the Mexican wrestler.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Gael García Bernal is fabulous in this incredible true story. Cassandro balances the triumphant exaltation of Arbendáriz's singular evolution as a trailblazer who didn't set out to become one, with the obvious, still not entirely eliminated bigotry that made his trajectory so significant and groundbreaking in the first place.” – Carlos Aguilar, Indiewire

“An entertaining biographical film, which is also a magnificent ode to the love between a mother and a son and a stimulating exploration of queer identity in a macho environment.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“Gael García Bernal is phenomenal (...) a fun drama based on a true story (...) Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)” – Wendy Ide, The Guardian

“Thanks to Bernal, you also get a portrait of self-actualization -- a caterpillar turning into a butterfly in a long, flowing sequined cape. It’s one of his single best performances to date.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone

“Bernal has always been an accomplished leading man with the spirit of a character actor, and his latest provides him with the part for which he’s been waiting, allowing him to demonstrate the range of his ferocity, charm and sensitivity... His magnetism [is] so great that it elevates Williams’ drama.” – NICK SCHAGER, The Ringer

“As Bernal plays him, Cassandro is a hero for our dismal times, not just because he crashes through norms, but because he makes it look fun, even when it most certainly isn’t.” – Stephanie Zacharek, TIME Magazine

About the Director
Roger Ross Williams is an American director, producer, and writer and the first African American director to win an Academy Award with his short film Music by Prudence.

Williams has directed several acclaimed films, including Life, Animated, which won the Sundance Film Festival Directing Award; God Loves Uganda, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award®; and American Jail, which examined the U.S. prison system and premiered on CNN.

Williams’ Traveling While Black, a VR documentary made for Facebook’s Oculus, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy® and won a Webby Award.  His film The Apollo, a documentary about Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, was the opening night film of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Primetime Emmy® for Outstanding Documentary. He recently directed three hours of The Innocence Files, which premiered on Netflix in their top ten. Cassandro is his first narrative feature film.

Notes on Film

“I love telling inspirational stories, stories of people where the odds were against them like the odds were against me as a young person, but who still went on to win an Oscar and to have this career…

And the odds were against Cassandro, someone who conquered the world of lucha libre, a masculine world, on his terms as an out gay man. Even my past films, like Life, Animated about the challenges of autism—all of these connect to the themes in my own life. My mother was a maid, she worked in a fraternity, cleaning the toilets. And I worked right alongside her as a little boy. So that’s what drives me.”

– Roger Ross Williams, Director