Inocente is definitely an Academy type documentary, and I can see by their standards how it stood out. I haven’t watched any of the other shorts yet from this year so I’m not sure how they compare. However, I’m not sure that Inocente would have won in my book, and here is why.
I thought it was fairly average. The story had power and the colors and symbolism were there, but I felt that its stillness and quiet moments were a large weak point. As a fan of photography and cinematography alike, I understand and can appreciate how just one frame or photograph can speak volumes. In Inocente, those frames were so repetitive that the forty minute short felt like seventy.
Inocente Izucar is a 15 year old living in San Diego, California. For all intents and purposes, she is homeless. She has never lived one place more than three months at a time and knows most, if not all of the shelters in and around her county. None of her friends from school know. She has found healing in art, so much so that she can’t even keep it off her face. She paints her face every morning, dons her bright red converse, and is off. She enjoys being alone and does not spend a lot of time with her family, but instead at ARTS (A Reason To Survive) where she paints bright scenes from her dreams.
Inocente is chosen by the director of ARTS to be one of two chosen to host their own art show. She creates thirty pieces in a couple months, and then sells them for twelve thousand dollars towards the program and her college fund. The documentary follows her artistic journey and uses the art pieces as background as she narrates over the top, sharing stories of the past. She and her family are living illegally in the United States, and Inocente feels like it is her fault that they are homeless and running scared. Her abusive father was deported years ago, and Inocente feels directly responsible. At only eleven years old, her mother pleaded with her that they should both jump off the Coronado bridge. Inocente had to talk her down.
Despite the power in her words and story, I felt like the story telling was weak. The people were all respectfully represented, but there was little shown of the difficulty of their life. There was so much time spent in the art studio and so much less on just her life that although Inocente shared many stories and many things, very few things stood out as emotionally grabbing. The colors and camera work were well done, as far as MTV goes, but I am surprised that the film gained an Oscar from the Academy.
Inocente’s story seems like it would be fascinating, and her way of telling it is raw and real. She feels awkward at first, not knowing how to start. Her art is a central focus, and perhaps that was the goal. Perhaps she and the Fines wished her art to tell her story more than her words. They wanted it to be brighter and more positive. I can understand that, but I guess it just was not my cup of tea.
If the story I relayed for you sounds interesting, I would recommend the film to you. Obviously a lot of other people really enjoyed it, I was just more indifferent to it than they were. I will say this, though–the colors were absolutely beautiful, as was Inocente. I wish her the very best.