MSU Cinema International Continues 5-Film Spanish Language Festival with "El regreso"

Sep 2, 2020

Murray State Cinema International continues its series on gender representation and 5-film Spanish language festival with El regreso, or The Return, this weekend. Program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul speaks with Tracy Ross about the upcoming film and its director, writer, and star, Hernán Jiménez.

From the MSU Cinema International website:

"El Regreso is the story of a delightful and life-changing journey back to Costa Rica after ten years in New York for 30-year-old Antonio. Actor and director Hernán Jiménez not only wrote, directed, and starred in this, his second full-length film, but also financed it with the proceeds from his first feature, his stand up comedy act, and the most successful Kickstarter campaign in Latin America to date. Far from the image of Costa Rica promoted by the country's Department of Tourism, The Return became the highest-grossing Costa Rican film ever and the first to earn international recognition."

"[This film] is almost like an autobiography," St. Paul begins. "It's [about] a writer who's been living for ten years in New York...there was nothing for him in Costa Rica. As it happened, there are some questions there -- why did he really leave? Was it just to be a writer, or were there other reasons? I think this move [raises] a bunch of questions, like why do people live their home base? Some people never leave...some people leave and come back...some people never come back. In this case, we find out that maybe he was escaping something."

"When you come back, you've changed," St. Paul continues. "You are never the same when you come back, but are you better? Are you more tolerant than when you left? Do you like your country better after having seen something else? All these questions come up in this movie. It's a very tender movie. It's comical. It has serious family relation issues, friends...so it's an interesting movie for lots of reasons."

"There is certainly a lot of Jiménez in this film. He actually says it. That's his own story. As he gradually steps back into his country...he is, in fact, in a culture shock. He's culture-shocked in his own culture. Coming from New York, which is already pretty cosmopolitan, into the chaos that is Latin life -- extroverted, crazy sometimes, sometimes totally incomprehensible to an outsider. He has somehow become a bit of an outsider in his own culture. Jiménez really wanted to explore those perspectives. He's writing about it in the movie, and it was him writing about it in real life. There's a lot of...self-introspection in here," St. Paul explains. 

"I think if you are familiar with Latin Caribbean culture, you probably are familiar with this author and actor," St. Paul continues. "He surely brought a lot of attention to Costa Rica because of his image -- it promoted tourism. One of the most successful stories of Latin America is Costa Rica. We know that a lot of Central American cultures have had political difficulty, revolution...but Costa Rica has come out a very stable culture...compared to others. In many ways, it's a country that attracts tourism already, but it definitely liked the movie because it portrayed [Costa Rican] culture in not just a rosy light, [but] as it is."

"You come here, and you take it all. There is good...but there are some things you might not like because you are an outsider [or] you think it's too chaotic. [Jiménez] wants to show that reconciliation of the different aspects. It's like your family. You come back to a family that you love, but that you also hate sometimes. That comes through in the film as well," St. Paul concludes. 

Limited capacity, free community screenings of El regreso will be Thursday, September 3rd, and Friday, September 4th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Curris Center Theater. For more information on Murray State Cinema International, visit their website