As an artist who views life in a sensory and a passionate way, Hernán Jiménez was characteristically effusive in his description of his time at Pearson College UWC.
“I had the best…I mean it’s almost so big and so mind-blowingly, earth-shatteringly amazing – and I’m not being hyperbolic – it’s really hard for me to put it into words! I had an amazing time at Pearson!”
Jiménez, born in San Jose, Costa Rica and a YR 23 who attended Pearson from 1996 to 1998, returned this fall to campus and shared his post-Pedder Bay experiences with current students during a beautiful Sunday afternoon outdoor session of Life After Pearson*.
An actor, writer-director/filmmaker and a comedian, Jiménez had just wrapped principle photography for his first English-language feature film shot over several weeks in Sooke, British Columbia, a rural community almost adjacent to the Pearson campus. Coming back to the area – for the first time in two decades – brought back a spectrum of memories and experiences to Jiménez.
“I came here with two of my best friends who had been hearing about Pearson for 20 years but didn’t quite understanding it, I think,” chuckled Jiménez. “We walked into the art room and we were, quite literally mobbed by a group of the most kind and adorable teenagers I have ever met – and certainly, my friends have ever met – they had tears in their eyes because they couldn’t remember a time when they’ve been greeted with such kindness.”
Jiménez says his original adventure at Pearson helped shape what he already knew back home in Costa Rica – that he wanted to become an actor. “It was mostly theatre that resonated with me. I acted in a play that our teacher Phillip Burroughs had directed, alongside us and for us – for me it was a transformative experience.”
And with a metaphorical wink, Jiménez admits that his filmmaking career began here at Pearson after he, through a bit of benign subterfuge, “convinced” his father to fund the purchase of a relatively early digital camera. “That was my introduction to the visual medium – I made a video tour of the place, taped One World performances. I think I was always obsessed with cameras and their functioning and their capturing of time and place.”
During his Life After Pearson discussion with students, Jiménez shared that he went on to graduate from the National Theatre School of Canada, and trained as a filmmaker at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Film Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts in New York City.
He began his career as a director in his home country where he wrote, directed and produced his first feature film El regreso (The Return), which won the Best International Feature prize at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival. The theatrical release in Costa Rica became one of the country’s most successful box office hits of all time for a local production, as did a later film, Entonces Nosotros.
Now a resident of Los Angeles, Jiménez spends several months every year in Costa Rica where he maintains a thriving Spanish-language career as a writer and performer of four stand-up comedy specials.
His first English-language feature, Elsewhere, is described as a comedy, drama starring Hollywood veterans Beau Bridges and Parker Posey and is scheduled to be released next year.
“So, now I’m going to lock myself in my house in LA for three or four months and I’m going to put this movie together and sculpt it and it’s going to make me really happy and I think it’s going to be an extension of what happened here today (returning to the Pearson campus),” said Jiménez. “I really think it’s a return to Pearson College – not only that, but I told students here that I want to come back sometime during that editing process and hold a focus group with them.
“I think I knew that when I came back here I needed to come back with a really good excuse –and with a really good excuse to turn around and leave again. So, I am walking out of Sooke with a baby in my hands, which is my film that I adore beyond words and it means the world to me!”
*Life After Pearson is another way in which alumni can connect with today’s young leaders at Pearson. Alumni Interested in speaking at an informal Life After Pearson session either on-campus or remotely can contact Alumni Relations & Community Engagement Officer Luisa Vasquez at firstname.lastname@example.org.