Sundance World Premiere: Cassandro
Roger Ross Williams’ first scripted feature, CASSANDRO, received high praise and glowing reviews when it premiered at Sundance this January. The film about an openly gay, cross-dressing Lucha Libre wrestler, stars Gael García Bernal, Roberta Colindrez, Perla De La Rosa, Raúl Castillo, Joaquín Cosío, and Bad Bunny. CASSANDRO is set to stream on Prime Video later in 2023.
An outsider turned unlikely superstar
Cassandro is the new scripted film from Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.
It stars Gael García Bernal as Saúl Armendáriz, an American-born luchador wrestler, who grew up near the U.S.-Mexican border in El Paso, Texas.
Being gay in this machismo-driven industry, he creates a flamboyant persona known as Cassandro, the Liberace of Lucha Libre. And against all odds, he becomes one of Mexican wrestling’s most unique heroes, not just upending the macho wrestling world, but also his own life…
Cassandro is set to stream on Prime Video in 2023.
Rousing portrait of sexual identity
Roger Ross Williams about Cassandro: “I have always been attracted to telling the stories of outsiders. The remarkable real-life tale of Cassandro, a gay Mexican wrestler who lives on the border of the US and Mexico, immediately grabbed me. Here was a true outsider, a gay man in a deeply Catholic culture who rose to fame in the macho world of Lucha Libre wrestling, not by hiding his sexuality, but by making it central to his performance.
My own life experience as a gay, black man has made me realize the importance of telling stories we don’t usually hear. The true story of Cassandro, Saúl Armendáriz, was one I knew I wanted to tell from the moment I met him.”
Donna Summer: Love To Love You
Doc “Love To Love You, Donna Summer” launched at Berlinale and SXSW
Love To Love You, Donna Summer, co-directed by Roger Ross Williams and Summer’s daughter, Brooklyn Sudano, had its World Premiere at the 2023 Berlinale, followed by its U.S. Premiere at 2023 edition of SXSW. The doc will premiere on HBO/HBO MAX this May.
Love to Love You, Donna Summer captures a richly complex picture of the woman, the artist and disco queen, the wife, and mother whose iconic voice changed music forever, and is shaped by her own reflections. Working with a rich archive of unpublished film excerpts and home video, photographs, artwork, writings, personal audio and other recordings often created by Donna Summer herself, the skillful assimilation of audio testimonies establishes how complete an artist and how complex a person Donna Summer was.
Love to Love You, Donna Summer is produced by Motto Pictures for HBO/HBOMAX.
“Seasoned documentarian Roger Ross Williams makes an assured transition into narrative features with this entertaining biopic, which doubles as a gorgeous depiction of mother-son love and an exhilarating exploration of fearless queer identity in a macho environment.”
“Williams’ story of coming out and acceptance is both riveting and often touching, and Bernal gives quite possibly his best performance in this beautiful story of finding yourself and becoming who you were always supposed to be.”
“Skepticism about documentary filmmakers crossing over to fiction, especially in a project largely in a language not their own with a myriad of culturally specific traits, is justified; but Cassandro results in an impressive transition for Ross Williams”
Love to Love You, Donna Summer:
“a nuanced exploration of an artist of enormous talent and lasting influence, plagued by inner conflict”
“Roger Ross Williams is changing the face of documentary film. The prolific Oscar-winning filmmaker and producer has continually leveraged his passion and talent to raise up new voices and stories.”
“Williams spent two years on this project, and the trust everyone involved placed in him allowed for an emotional honesty that is Life, Animated’s greatest strength.”
“Roger Ross Williams’ One Story Up Is A Powerhouse Production Company Giving Hope To BIPOC Talent.”
“Traveling While Black draws a line from the past to the present, and forces audiences to confront contemporary realities as well. The film is leading the charge of VR as an instrument of social change.”
“Equally moving, informative, and infuriating, Netflix’s “The Innocence Files” is one of the best true crime series ever made.”
“High on the Hog will make you ravenous in every way. For the culinary delights with which it is stuffed to bursting, for its nuanced intelligence, its joy, its pace; for the expertise of its presenter; … and, most of all, for its profound difference in spirit and content from almost everything that has gone before.”
God Loves Uganda:
“Williams is to be commended not only for his filmmaking skill, but also for pulling back the curtain on a most disturbing situation.”
“Life, Animated conveys the deeply moving sense that Owen, however fortunate in his choice of obsession, was even more blessed to be born into a family this tirelessly supportive — one that saw the wisdom of never encouraging him to put childish things away.”
High on the Hog:
“A nuanced celebration of African Americans and their food. It is also sorely overdue.”
“Williams captures vérité footage so shocking that viewers may be squirming in their seats. Masterfully crafted and astonishingly provocative, God Loves Uganda may be the most terrifying film of the year.”