Most of us take the time to watch the movies that win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, or at least we’re familiar with the film titles. Many of us might even watch the cute Best Animated Short as it circulates on social media. But how many of us have taken the time to look into the Best Documentary Short?
"Inocente," Best Documentary Short of 2013, will be screening at Duke on September 16. The film tells the inspiring story of Inocente Izucar, an undocumented immigrant who was homeless when she was only 15 years old and living in San Diego. There will be a question and answer session with Izucar after the screening.
The film, directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, follows Izucar and her experiences as a high school student and an artist. While her status as an undocumented immigrant affects all aspects of her life, it is her artistic drive and vision that give the true sense of her identity.
Through the trailer alone, Izucar's story is a poignant one. She mentions her fear that other kids at school will make fun of her if they knew she was homeless, and her relationship with her mother is rocky.
Jenny Snead Williams, Executive Director of Duke’s Program in Latino/a Studies, sees the similarities in the human experiences of Inocente and Duke students. “Bringing Inocente to campus is important because it highlights a segment of the population that is similar to part of Duke’s population. Inocente is also the same age as many Duke students,” said Williams.
“One of the biggest confusions among faculty, students and the community in general is that [the Program in Latino/a Studies] is about something international, foreign or in another place. Part of our program’s goal is to show that Latino studies is a part of U.S. studies,” Williams said. The greater political considerations from watching this movie are significant, and yet it is also important to note Inocente as an individual artist.
There were times when Inocente had no money for canvases, painting instead on her clothes and her face, which she paints every morning with bright and elaborate makeup designs. Through filmmakers Sean and Andrea, she connected with ARTS: A Reason to Survive, a non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of youth through the arts. Now 19 years old, Inocente has her own website for her art and has had a successful show in New York City.
Inocente shows us how complex identity is and inspires us to transcend any one interpretation of a person. “One of the reasons we want to bring Inocente is because her story is inspiring, regardless of whether or not you’re interested in the issue of immigration,” Williams said.
As the film touches on a number of problems such as domestic violence and homelessness, “Art is a way to understand and elaborate those problems,” said Miguel Rojas-Sotelo, Special Event Coordinator at Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Rojas-Sotelo will take this message of art and its transformative power to a community screening prior to the event at Duke. The community screening, which will be in the Holton Career and Resource Center, will be geared toward 300 Durham high school students. Rojas-Sotelo and several Duke students in his “Building Creative Class” will work with 40 of these students to create a moving canvas mural and redesign t-shirts, just as Inocente does in the film. “Fashion and the way Inocente performs art are really important in the film in how she identifies herself,” said Rojas-Sotelo.
There will be several opportunities to see the finished mural. It will be on display at the Holton Center and will travel to several of the Durham high schools represented at the community screening. The mural will come to Duke’s Bryan Center for the Duke Arts Festival and will later be on display in a final exhibit at the Jameson Gallery in the Friedl building starting December 5.
The event is presented by Duke’s Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South and co-sponsored by Duke Libraries, Mi Gente, Screen/Society, Two-Way Bridges/Puentes de Doble Via (Humanities Write Large) and the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Following the screening there will be a question and answer with Inocente Izucar and Matt D’Arrigo, founder of ARTS: A Reason to Survive. There will be a reception in the Jameson Gallery, which is currently exhibiting Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unafraid, about undocumented youth.
The screening of Inocente will be on September 16 at 7 p.m. in White Lecture Hall.