4 min., 2022, United States, color, digital video Languages: Gujarati, English
Jeroo offers an intimate glimpse into the life of Jer Zenieris—affectionately known as Jeroo—as she prepares her signature slow-cooked barbeque short ribs.
Jeroo is a short documentary that spotlights the director’s mother, Jer Zenieris, affectionately known as Jeroo. The film is guided by voicemails to her daughter that narrate Jer as she cooks braised barbecue short ribs, a recipe she learned after emigrating from India to Oklahoma in the early 80s at the age of 20.
The film is a quiet meditation on the life of an immigrant mother. The camera observes her measured movements in the kitchen as the news blares in the background before landing on still moments and objects she used to create a home, some brought with her from Mumbai, but many acquired in her new life. They create a library of familiar objects to those raised in first-generation immigrant households: kitchen appliances with broken handles, an array of repurposed plastic bottles, well-loved linens, and religious iconography peppering the walls.
The camera operates as the eyes of a freshly-adult daughter coming to the realization that her mother was a person before she ever was a mother; catching glimpses of a life she’ll never know but will always have a strong presence in her life. The film ends with an intimate moment of Jer dancing to one of her favorite artists, Fleetwood Mac during a hurricane inflicted blackout.
After watching the film, Jer shared her review: “what a hokey film.”
Aleya Zenieris is a Florida-raised, Los Angeles based filmmaker and a first generation American of Greek and Indian heritage. Her experience as an Asian American woman informs her creative work which highlights intergenerational immigrant stories. Zenieris is a food fanatic and was nominated in 2022 for a James Beard Media Award.