El Regreso ( The Return) is the bittersweetstory of Antonio, a 30-year-old Costa Rican writer who is unexpectedly sum- moned home from New York
by his family after 10 years away. Upon
his return, Antonio finds a country that
has shed its peaceful, bucolic coffee-farming past: roads are congested with
traffic and residents have erected giant
fences to fend off would-be thieves. He
has trouble relating to his sick father; his
sister (now a single mother) struggles to
get by; and his best friend has become a
heavy metal head.
Making the film was an intensely personal effort for Costa Rican filmmaker
Hernán Jiménez, who wrote, directed
and acted in the movie as the central character. At 31, Jiménez
is not only about the same age as Antonio, but he also experienced the same “rough re-entry” experience.
Although Jiménez’ own journeys home were more frequent,
the country he (and Antonio) returned to was “basically un-
recognizable after 10 years away,” he says, “The social and eco-
nomic decay is palpable. Every time I come back, the streets
are worse, traffic is worse, and there’s more violence, more
crime and more inequality.”
Despite the film’s less-than-perfect portrayal of Costa Rica,
support for the up-and-coming director is strong back home.
Jiménez raised over half the film’s $100,000 budget through
individual donations—largely from fellow Costa Ricans—on
Kickstarter.org, an online fundraising forum that has become
increasingly popular among artists, musicians and filmmak-
ers around the hemisphere.
El Regreso premiered in Costa Rica in September to rave re-
views and soldout shows for several weeks. In August, El Re-
greso won the award for best international film at New York’s
2011 International Latino Film Festival.
“Winning the award was fantastic,” says Jiménez. “It reas-
sured me that there is some universal truth beneath the story.
Everyone has departed and returned home at some point; ev-
erybody has gone back to where they came from.”
Well, this is awkward: Antonio (right) reunites with his best
friend, César, a heavy metal head, in San José.
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