Coming to theatres today, Friday, July 19:
CASSANDRO, THE EXOTICO!
Cannes 2018 (ACID)
IDFA, CPH:DOX, Morelia, Ambulante, Tempo Doc, Mar del Plata, Santa Barbara, Jeonju, São Paulo, Hamburg, San Diego Latino, SF DocFest, Sarasota, Outfest Fusion, BFI Flare
An intimate profile of the “Liberace of lucha libre” as he faces the end of his career.
Lucha libre, of course, is a wildly popular form of wrestling entertainment in Mexico, known for its masked combatants with colorful names and personalities. Perhaps less well-known is the presence of exóticos within the sport, male wrestlers who adopt feminine outfits, hair, and makeup, as well as exaggerated, campy, and stereotypically gay/feminine mannerisms. While often functioning as comic foils, they sometimes take center stage themselves as unlikely heroes in a culture of over the top machismo. Saul Armendariz, better known as Cassandro, the subject of Marie Losier’s warm portrait, is one such luchador, a record-holding champion who sees himself as a pioneer in bringing dignity to gay men within the field. The Texan-born 47-year-old Cassandro has competed within lucha libre for over 25 year, and he has the scars and broken bones to show for it. As Losier follows him over the course of five years, Cassandro reflects on the triumphs and adversities of his life – the latter including abuse suffered while young, and struggles with alcohol and drugs, though he proudly shows off his many years of sobriety to the camera – but soon comes to recognize that his body just can’t take the rigors of the ring any longer. He makes for an affable protagonist, and a surprisingly genuine and vulnerable one, in this well constructed and at times playful film.