ASU student makes silver screen debut in independent film

'ALL WE HAVE,' a Tucson-based romantic drama starring ASU student Karen Marroquin, has showtimes at three metro Phoenix Harkins theaters

On Friday, the independent Tucson-based film "ALL WE HAVE" makes its way to three Harkins Theater locations in the Valley: Avondale, Mesa and Glendale.

The film, centered around themes of love and moving on from the past, began production in 2018. It follows Andres and Natalia, whose love story begins on campus and quickly takes a turn for the worse when someone from Natalia's past intrudes.

"The origins of the film are inspired by something I experienced back in 2016. Based on that nucleus, I created characters and events to go along with it," said Edgar Ybarra, writer and director of the film. "The prior experience made it feel like the film wrote itself — the ideas just flowed out."

While the foundation of the film was backed by strong storylines based on real life, production didn’t come easy, Ybarra said. Working out the film's logistics began with a detailed approach from the team. 

"The process of creating 'ALL WE HAVE' was like going into a test every other weekend. You do your preparation, learn your lines, and then question everything," Ybarra said. "It's going through the examination of every nook and cranny that you get intimately familiar with every moment in the film. 

"I knew that we had something special, and I felt that all the way through because of the process of refining and confident execution."

While familiarizing yourself with the small details adds an extra dimension to film, you can't forget a foundation of strong acting, Ybarra said. Finding the right people for the job came when he least expected it, especially lead actress Karen Marroquin. 

"I met Karen out of the blue and it was an absolute pleasure working with her," Ybarra said. "I met her in her senior year of high school. She was a powerhouse — undeniable in her talent. She showed up in full force with all the professionalism in the world. Her work ethic is absolutely incredible."

Marroquin, a junior studying journalism and mass communication, came across the film opportunity through her modeling director. Although she used to be shy and fear what people thought of her, Marroquin, who plays Natalia, said this project has helped her gain the confidence to present her true self. 

"One day, the woman I modeled for called me and said 'Hey Karen, there's this audition in Tucson tomorrow — you have to be there in the early morning,'" Marroquin said. "At first I didn't think anything of it. I didn't know if I should go. After talking to my parents, I felt like I should just try it — I didn't want to waste an opportunity."

Change can be daunting, Marroquin said. But the opportunity to be the protagonist in Ybarra's film signified change for good, giving her the last piece of knowledge to take charge in her life goals, she said. 

"When I take opportunities that might change my life, I'm excited," Marroquin said. "It was so awesome doing something at this level, before I had only done theater. I enjoyed that, but I always wanted to be in front of the camera. It was my dream come true."

While acting in "ALL WE HAVE" fueled Marroquin's dream of being on camera, her goals for the future go beyond acting. 

While studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Marroquin hopes the next camera she's in front of is in the broadcast journalism industry. While acting and journalism may seem different, the actress said she sees parallels between the two. 

"The reason why I'm doing journalism is because I've always loved storytelling. Choosing journalism as my field was a no-brainer. It's my love for storytelling that drives me," Marroquin said. "My plans for the future are hopefully to work in broadcast journalism, but I will take whatever God gives me. My goal at the end of the day is to shed light on important narratives in front of the camera."

For both Marroquin and Ybarra, the development of the film and its ultimate release in Arizona cinemas makes them overwhelmingly proud. 

To Marroquin, it means that people have supported her in her goals of becoming a storyteller. To Ybarra, it means his message of hope and determination can be spread to the heart of Arizona. 

"I'm so proud to bring 'ALL WE HAVE' to the Phoenix area. For a microbudget independent film to make it to the big screen is incredible," Ybarra said. "It has heart, twists and turns, and I hope that this movie can serve as a reminder  that if you have a dream, you can run out there and do it. We made this little film — if we can do that, other people can do what makes them happy, too."

"ALL WE HAVE" is showing in the metro Phoenix area at Chandler Fashion 20, Gateway Pavilions 18 and Superstition Springs 25 through April 22. Showtimes and tickets are available online.


Reach the reporter at jecote@asu.edu and follow @jillianecote on Twitter.

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