When Inocente Izucar was 15, undocumented and homeless, she blamed herself for her father being deported for domestic abuse. Her mother once took her by the hand to jump off a bridge together in order to put an end to their hardship. The young girl stopped her mother — to Inocente life may be hard sometimes, but she always sees beauty around her and demonstrates it through her colorful artwork.
For years, she had been waiting for the day that would change her life. Yesterday was that day. The film that captured two years of her life, called “Inocente,” won an Oscar Award in the Best Documentary Short category.
Directors, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine started filming the documentary — produced by actor and comedian John Leguizamo — in 2009, and it gained much acclaim in various film festivals, and even won “Best Documentary Short” at the 2012 San Antonio Film Festival. Most importantly, the film gave the world a peek of the world through Inocente’s bright multi-colored glasses. It inspired multitudes — and in turn, helped Inocente blossom and venture out of her shy shell. She’s now supporting herself by selling her art and has her own apartment in Chula Vista, Calif.
“It’s made my life a lot better,” says Inocente, now 19, about the film. “The biggest thing for me is that it’s inspired so many people, and I’ve been able to connect with so many people. It’s been really cool.”
Co-director Nix Fine says Inocente’s family is now documented as well.
“They are in the process of applying for Green Cards — it’s quite expensive, almost $1,500 a person — so it’s a huge strain on the family,” she says.
Fine says one of the main points of the film was the fact that Inocente didn’t ask to be undocumented or homeless.
“For us, it’s more important to show they don’t ask to be put in these situations, and we don’t listen to them, and they get lost,” he says, adding there are millions of Inocentes in our country. “These kids given the right things can do amazing things. We’re in a situation right now where we’re cutting arts programs. We all watch the Oscars because we love art, so why are we cutting programs across the country? We should be celebrating the unknown artists…They are very powerful in what they have to say.”
Inocente says when she heard her name being called at the 85th Annual Academy Awards last night, she lost her train of thought.
“Taking it all in was the main thing and just seeing everybody was really cool,” she says. “All these famous people are clapping for you. I just tried to stay in the moment.”
Wearing a flowy off-white gown designed by Leila Hafzi, the humble artist says she prefers to be comfortable and chose the dress with that in mind.
“It was one of the only dresses that didn’t have boning in it — it was really nice and soft and not tight,” she says. “The shoes were really uncomfortable. I took them off for most of the time. They’re just for show anyway.”
She was also surprised at the weight of the golden statue, but it only made her prouder.
“Only certain people get this Oscar — so it’s very special,” says Inocente. “It’s heavy, but it’s a good heavy, because only we can have it.”
“I’m paying my bills,” says the once homeless teenager, who now has two pet bunnies. “I feel adult-like.”