“Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean I don’t have a life”
To look at fifteen-year old Inocente is to see a colorful young girl with a permanent smile possessed by infinite possibilities ahead. Confident and carefree enough to paint her face each morning before school with curved flourishes descending past her cheeks and stickered jewels surrounding her eyes, she emits a contagious vitality many strive and fail to acquire. Through her painting and artwork she breathes life into the fun dreams keeping her from falling off the deep end of an emotional abyss. To her anything is possible as long as she’s willing to fight. This is her time to shine and become the woman everyone around her believes she can be.
Appearances are very deceiving, however, in directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix‘s film. Garnering them their second Oscar nomination for Documentary Short, they’ve chosen a girl who was born for the spotlight and who has a bottomless wealth of creativity to match the expansive imagination inside her brain. But while her smile is genuine and her ambitions possible, the fact that she is homeless will ultimately trump everything else. Inocente’s bravery in the face of adversity is her greatest work of art, turning lemons into lemonade as it were so that she can continue living despite the unbelievable things she has had to endure thus far through her short life.
Suicide is not a foreign concept for Inocente, nor is the unwavering guilt felt about her role in seeing an abusive father deported and a mother and two brothers left alone to jump shelter to shelter in perpetuity. She knows the darkness that comes from a nightmarish past and yet tries her best to refuse to let it define her. She has found San Diego’s A.R.T.S. (A Reason to Survive) program, worked her butt off to be one of two selected from 5,000 for a solo show, and continues to do her best to keep her family together despite so much baggage between she and her mother.
One in forty-five kids are currently homeless in the United States—it’s a staggering figure. Fine and Nix’s portrait of this young girl lets us idolize her perseverance and dedication in not becoming just another statistic. An intimate portrayal allowing its subject to tell her story unfiltered—even putting a camera on her brushes as they dance along the canvas—Inocente stands strong in the knowledge all her dreams will come true.