Why this Texas-raised filmmaker says his undocumented experience inspires his goofy perspective

Jorge Corona’s short film ‘Love Me Tenderizer’ had its world premiere at the 2022 Austin Film Festival.

By Laura RiceNovember 2, 2022 11:35 am, , ,

Jorge Corona considers himself a product of Texas.

“I guess I arrived there when I was in middle school, and then I lived there all the way through my college years at the University of Texas,” Corona says. “And so, you know, a lot of my formative years were spent in Texas.”

Those formative years were also mostly led as an undocumented person.

“When my family came to Texas, we had a traveler’s visa. And for various reasons that were outside of our control, my parents decided to overstay the visa and we became undocumented in that sense,” Corona says.

Even before his family arrived in the United States from Mexico, Corona was beginning to develop a passion for filmmaking.

“My parents won this camera in a contest,” Corona says. “I think it was at a wedding or something. There was some sort of raffle and they won this old JVC videotape camera with the mini DV videocassettes. And I played around with it and I liked it.”

He began to experiment with making films.

“I loved playing with the image. I love moving the actors around. I loved playing with the lights. And yeah, I latched on to it,” Corona says.

He decided to try to pursue it as a career and later moved to New York City to pursue freelancing and graduate school.

“[The short film] ‘Love Me Tenderizer’ came about as a project that I had to do for school,” Corona says. “It was a project where I had seven or so minutes to tell a story. And I had a lot of fun with it because it gave me a bit of an escape. I looked at my life and I said, ‘What are the things that I do that are just kind of weird?’”

He latched onto one habit in particular.

“One of the things that I laughed about was my propensity at home with my wife to open the spice cabinet up and to see multiple spices… when you see like three things of thyme or two things of salts and they’re all the same, but they’re all at different levels. And I just… I get so weirdly pent up about that,” Corona says.

While Corona is now a U.S. citizen, he says his experience as an undocumented person and later as a DACA recipient really shaped him. He says that life can be tough.

“But, you know, I also see ‘Love Me Tenderizer’ as an expression of that undocumented life,” Corona says. “You know, the film itself is not about immigration. The film itself is not about any of these issues. But I think that, as somebody who has been in that place, a lot of your life does not revolve around whether or not I have status or whether or not I’m thinking about like, ‘what could happen to me.’ I think those are big misconceptions because at the end of the day, we’re human, you know? And so ‘Love Me Tenderizer’ itself has that expression of goofiness that’s also part of, in my opinion, the undocumented American perspective.”

The short film had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival – where Corona used to volunteer as an undergrad at UT.

“I mean, it feels like a homecoming of the first order,” Corona says.

The 2022 Austin Film Festival runs through November 3.

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