Carmen Marrón, Hollywood’s most improbable auteur, has created another poignant film on the many complicated facets of being Latino in today’s America. After the success of her first film Go For It!, starring the now beloved Gina Rodriguez from Jane the Virgin, Marrón recently premiered her sophomore film, Endgame. Based on true events from an economically disadvantaged border town in Texas, Carmen Marrón’s inspiring Endgame is a coming-of-age story centered around a young boy, Jose (played by Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez) and his love for chess. Against all odds, Jose’s school teacher uses chess to turn him and his detention-ridden classmates into state champions. It’s the ultimate underdog story.
Marrón was able to attract some of film and television’s top Latino stars because of her past work, the authenticity of the script, and her vision for the film. She clarified, “They all jumped on board even though it was a low budget.” The all-star cast includes Efrén Ramírez from Napoleon Dynamite, Ivonne Coll from Jane the Virgin, and Justina Machado from Devious Maids.
Don’t be fooled. The film is much more than a chess tournament. It portrays painfully real heartaches, involving jealousy, loss, and immigration. The story takes place in Brownsville, Texas, a city that shares the Rio Grande with Matamoros, Mexico, and where many undocumented immigrants enter the U.S. This is not lost in the film. Jose’s best friend, Dani, is the child of undocumented parents. Through Dani’s character, Endgame provides a glimpse into the life of a child living in a perpetual state of fear. Over 5 million U.S citizen children are affected by this issue and Marrón had no qualms depicting their painful reality. Marrón is also not a stranger to this issue. Both of her parents were undocumented immigrants when they arrived in the United States from Mexico. “I remember how grateful they were to become U.S citizens and now those opportunities are much slimmer and greatly affect the quality of life for families, including their children.”
“Movies like this need to exist for any kid who doesn’t believe he or she is born for greatness.”
Marrón’s goal for the film was to inspire Latino audiences. “I wanted to tell a story about Latinos that showed us as leaders and heroes in our community,” she recalls. “ I want it to reach Latinos, families, and educators across the globe to show them that it is possible to do great things.” She felt especially compelled to make Endgame in our current climate where immigrants are being bashed and most portrayals of Latinos in media are negative stereotypes. Marrón feels it is her personal mission to change the media lanscape. “Movies like this need to exist for any kid who doesn’t believe he or she is born for greatness.”
Making films on social issues comes naturally to Marrón, thanks to her background as a guidance counselor in South Phoenix. “I have always been focused on impacting society through education. My films have just become an extension of that,” she explains. “The only reason I chose to become a filmmaker was to make movies impressing the importance and beauty of social responsibility. If not, I would have been very happy staying a guidance counselor and working with inner-city youth.”
Endgame is currently playing at the AMC Burbank Town Center 6 and the AMC Orange 30. On October 2, it opens in more cities in the Los Angeles area and in Dallas, Houston, and McAllen, Texas. It opens in Chicago on October 9, 2015.