The World Premiere of the feature film “Cassidy Red,” a Western ballad of love and hate, written and directed by Matt Knudsen, a UCLA MFA student—starring Abby Eiland (“Criminal Minds,” “Life on Mars”), David Thomas Jenkins (“Girl Meets World,” “CSI: Miami”), Jason Grasl (“Hot in Cleveland,” “White Collar”), Gregory Zaragoza (“The Sopranos,” “The Last of the Mohicans”), Jessy Knudsen, Rick Cramer (“True Blood,” “Live Free or Die Hard”), and Lola Kelly (“The Grinder,” “The Fosters”). The film screens as an Official Selection in Competition Features at Dances With Films on Friday, June 2, 2017, at 7:15 p.m., at the TCL Chinese Theatres (6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California).
Set against the backdrop of the 19th century American Southwest, the story follows “Josephine Cassidy,” the headstrong daughter of a prostitute and gunslinger, who returns to her hometown seeking vengeance against the corrupt lawman she believes murdered her lover.
Director Matt Knudsen says, “I wanted to acknowledge all of the iconic ingredients that made us fall in love with Westerns in the first place. But I conceived of the character Josephine Cassidy to represent the kind of progressive heroine that could help push the genre into a more interesting, contemporary place.”
The 92-minute film was shot at Old Tucson Studios (a historic location home to dozens of John Wayne classics) in Southern Arizona. Knudsen’s inspiration was the Spaghetti Westerns of his personal hero, the famed Sergio Leone, and the result owes much to the Italian classics he grew up watching. With the recent successes of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” Antoine Fuqua’s remake of “The Magnificent Seven”, and HBO’s “Westworld,” Knudsen has tapped into a nostalgic desire for the genre at a key moment.
Knudsen adds, “Like Leone often did for his films, I examined the genre and saw that there were stories, characters, and themes not being represented. The superstructure of ‘Cassidy Red’ is forged from familiar elements we associate with the Western: the untamed frontier, the constant threat of violence, outlaws, betrayal, corruption, saloons, jail cells, livestock, prostitution, bloodshed… But, at its core, the film examines elements underrepresented in classic Westerns: strong, complex, proactive female characters, familial ties, heartbreak, sacrifice, choice, and star-crossed love.”
This love letter by Knudsen to the Western takes the audience on a journey through the American Southwest where two brothers fall for the same woman, resulting in a deadly love triangle.
The film is produced by Brooks Yang. It was shot by Director of Photography Julia Swain. The original soundtrack by Andrew Carroll (lead singer of Los Angeles indie folk quintet The Lonely Wild) is available on Amazon and iTunes and features 70 minutes of original music.
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