Producer Angel Cassani (left) and Ariel Nunez (right) in Cannes
Over the past decade film producer Angel Cassani has been a key figure behind the production and international release of numerous action-packed fight films, but in recent years he’s moved into producing a broader range of films.
In the fight film genre, Cassani has made a huge mark as an executive producer behind films like “Never Surrender” starring award-winning actor James Russo (“My Own Private Idaho”), “Hell’s Chain” with former UFC fighter Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson (“The A-Team”), “Death Warrior” directed by Gemini Award nominee Bill Corcoran (“21 Jump Street”), “Death Calls” with MMA champion Hector Echavarria, “Chavez Cage of Glory” starring Danny Trejo (“Machete”) and more.
As a key player in the production of so many fight films, some might question what made Cassani decide to broaden the framework. After all, the film industry is a business and one of a film producer’s major responsibilities is securing a production’s budget and helping it turn a profit, something he’s excelled at many times over in the fight film genre, specifically with those related to UFC and MMA.
“I am currently more interested in producing projects that reflect real life stories,” says Cassani. “After having produced a lot of action films, nowadays what I try to include in my movies are those subjects that could potentially have an impact on society.”
Some of Cassani’s recent films outside of the fight-film genre include the 2018 dramatic love story “Mi Amor” and the 2019 drama “On the Other Side.”
“Mi Amor,” which stars Imagen Foundation Award nominee Adrian Moreira-Behrens (“Journeyman”) and Isabella Briggs (“After School”), tells the unique story of love rediscovered between two adults after their teenage children fall in love.
“The filmmaker offered me the movie and I really liked the screenplay,” explains Cassani. “I decided to take it because in my opinion it was an original story that wasn’t on the market at the time.”
The film, which Cassani will be available soon, centers on two teenagers who fall in love, but after introducing one another to each other’s parents discover that their parents had a love affair long ago and they are in fact, half siblings. A unique story to say the least, “Mi Amor” was directed by Yeniffer Behrens who, in addition to directing and producing numerous projects, has acted in over 80 productions.
“When I read a screenplay, the first thing that comes to my mind is if it would be a story which I would like to watch, then I evaluate the team we could possibly have in order to know what kind of working environment I will be involved in,” explains Cassani.
When it came to producing the 2019 film “On the Other Side,” which intimately portrays the story of two sisters crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S., Cassani was immediately taken by the powerful script.
“Since the very beginning I felt 100 percent committed to working with the team and felt like it was a rarely told story,” says Cassani.
Directed by Estefania Rebellon, who’s known for her acting roles in the Golden Globe Award winning series “Jane the Virgin” and “Pasión Prohibida,” and Kyle Thomas Schmidt (“Thieves Row,” “Fallen Empire”), “On the Other Side” sheds light on the difficult journey many immigrants face as they illegally pass through the burning Sonoran desert between Mexico and the U.S. in search of the American dream.
“I saw the opportunity to show the world why these people make these choices, which can be really hard to understand, and why they risk so much in order to have the opportunities they’ve been told they can have in the U.S.,” says Cassani, who immigrated to the U.S. from Argentina the legal way several years ago. “I think the traditional methods of immigration are much safer and less tricky.”
Based on a true story, “On the Other Side,” which premiered at the L.A. Shorts International Film Festival, earned rave reviews internationally and was chosen as an Official Selection of the Seattle Latino Film Festival, Burbank International Film Festival, Oaxaca Filmfest, Lone Star Film Festival, and was nominated for an award from the Imagen Foundation, as well as a Special Mention at the Latinuy Film Festival.
“On the Other Side” star Mayra Nuñez, who plays one of the sisters, says, “Angel has such a creative mind and a visionary point of view, he’s able to anticipate situations in the production before they even happen… He gave us the freedom to give our creative input, which I find really important when working with someone, and I was never afraid to speak my mind. I knew I could reach out to him if something wasn’t working.”
While there’s no doubt about the fact that film is a business, and a big one at that, there has to be passion behind the project, and for producer Angel Cassani, that passion currently rests with films that offer up powerful messages.