PANAMA CITY — 35-year old Hernan Jimenez is a well-known star in his native Costa Rica. His 2012 $0.2 million debut feature, “El Regreso,” clocked up 135,000 admissions at the local box office and won best feature film at the New York International Latino Film Festival in 2012.
His sophomore outing, “Entonces Nosotros,” which had its world premiere at IFF Panama, was written while he was studying scriptwriting at Columbia University in New York, where he also met the pic’s producer Chris Cole, who is specializing in micro-to-low budget films for the Latin American market.
“Entonces Nosotros,” budgeted at around $400,000, is a romantic comedy starring Jimenez himself and Argentine actress, Noelia Castaño.
“I’d wanted to tell a love story for a long time,” explains Jimenez. “It’s an area I’m fascinated by. The pic is based on personal experience and tells the story of a break up, instead of the beginning of a relationship.”
Co-star Castaño has been living for many years in Madrid, Spain, working in theatre, TV and cinema and was delighted to be cast in the pic. “It was great fun working with Hernan,” she explained. “The film has a definite American feel to it, but at the same time it’s completely Latin. It’s very passionate.”
Jimenez has worked over recent years as a stand-up comedian and is a big fan of Woody Allen’s films, such as ”Annie Hall.” He says that what often makes audiences most laugh is the things that explore the greatest pain: “There’s a river of sadness underlying any comedy,” he notes.
He moved away from Costa Rica when he was 16 years old, but has been going back and forth between the U.S. and Costa Rica since then, although he says that he has now finally settled in L.A..
“There’s a clear American sensibility that comes through my film,” he says. “That’s not so common in Latin American films. I’m very grateful to IFF Panama for screening the film because it has a more mainstream approach than many festival films.”
“Entonces” will bow on 25-30 screens in Costa Rica on May 12. Jimenez says that he was delighted to premiere the film in Panama because it was the first time that the pic has been seen by a Spanish-speaking audience, who reacted well to the comedy.
Jimenez’s next project, “Bruno del Bosque,” which was also written at Columbia, will once again be produced by Cole. Jimenez says that it’s about a man coming to terms with the death of his wife and who has to let go of his past in order to move on. Notwithstanding the serious subject matter, it will once again be a comedy.