“Cassidy Red,” a Western ballad of love and hate, written and directed by Matt Knudsen, a UCLA MFA student, will World Premiere 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 from Cassidy Red, LLC 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.