Monday, July 19, 2010

Audiences Go Crazy for Dance Flick

The exclamation mark punctuating the title of writer-director Carmen Marron's debut feature Go for It! has turned out to be entirely appropriate. In just a few short months on the film festival circuit, her semi-autobiographical Chicago junior college dance tale has scored a pair of Audience Awards and connected with moviegoers in a way that most filmmakers only dream of.

"I always thought I was going to reach the high school and college-aged kids, but they are turning out to be just a slice of the whole spectrum," Marron explains during an interview with FilmStew. "It's been astounding! Teenagers, senior citizens, middle-aged men, you name it, they've come up to me saying Go For It! inspired them and reminded them of their loved ones in some way or another."

"There was a man in his 40's in Boston who said he broke down crying four times," she continues. "He said it felt so real to him. That's probably the key word I keep hearing. An older Russian filmmaker came up to me in the lobby of one screening and said he did not like dance films, he did not know why he decided to see my film and was utterly surprised at how much he really liked it. We got a standing ovation at Dances with Films in L.A., another one in Boston. I'm very grateful."

Marron and her husband Sid Idris spent five and half years saving up the money to make their under $1 million passion project, which rises up off the screen with a musical energy not unlike that of the 1980 classic Fame. As one of ten children of Mexican immigrant parents growing up in inner city Chicago, Marron never intended to become a filmmaker. But after earning a B.A. from DePaul and her Master's in Educational Psychology from the University of Arizona, she was struck by the paucity of positive role models for her at-risk students at an elementary school in South Phoenix and decided to try and do something about it.

"We shot in the neighborhood I grew up in and the same park where I used to practice as a dancer," Marron reveals. "I used to perform in a dance group in clubs, stay out all night and get in trouble. If it weren't for my education, I don't know what would have happened to me."

Playing the part of Carmen in the film is Chicago native Aimee Garcia, an actress best known for recurring roles on The George Lopez Show and Trauma. Other Windy City cast members include Gina Rodriguez, Louie Alegria and David Hernandez who, along with choreographers Kristin Denehy (Taylor Swift) and Rino Nakasone (Gwen Stefani), are poised to next make their presence known in Fame's hometown, where Go For It! will screen July 29th and 30th as part of the New York Latino International Film Festival.

"I made a concerted effort to choose music for the film that was not only Latin or hip hop, but diverse," Marron reveals. "Like "Baila Loca", which has reggaeton and samba fused into it. Same with the finale song "Go For It!", which I co-composed. It has a mix of Latin, hip hop, flamenco and pop. I tried to include eclectic songs like these to broaden the scope of the audience and hopefully create new fans of Latin music."

So far, Marron seems to be succeeding admirably in that effort.

[Go For It!]

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