The experience of a second Oscar nomination does little to calm the nerves, as Sean Fine and his wife and collaborator Andrea Nix Fine can attest. Waiting for the announcement, the couple “were squeezing each other’s hands so tight, he had her nail marks in his palms.”
This time, though, the anticipation was rewarded with a win for best short documentary, their film “Inocente” about a 15 year old homeless, undocumented street artist, being voted best in category.
Perhaps the compelling story of Inocente Izucar, lifting herself from the forelorn straits of street life in San Diego through her paintings, has brought a special force to the film maker’s own art.
Yet Sean Fine has been a force of originality in his own right, having created his own major in zoology and film making at Connecticut College. He and his wife have a long list of awards for their film making, a 2008 Oscar nod for “War/Dance,” about children in Uganda, plus a string of Emmy’s and Sundance Film Festival awards.
Sean and Andrea were searching for a way to illuminate the plight of homeless children in America when they encountered Inocente Izucar.
She was enrolled in an arts program for at risk children, while living a life of constant disruption as she moved from one overcrowded homeless shelter to another. Against this backdrop the young girl discovered a world of color in her paintings, igniting a determined drive to become a working artist free of her street life past.
Inocente, the film, documents the life of Inocente, the girl, over a two year span. She is a symbol of the new face of homelessness in America, children and young people from broken homes and hopeless pasts. Her story is an inspirational exception to the norm, a vestige of color in a dark reality that too many never fully escape from.
The film ends at a crossroads for the young woman, where dreams and life’s path intersect. Inocente will soon be given a theatrical release and a showing on MTV; Sean and Andra Nix Fine are meanwhile at work on more new documentary films, for Sean a continuing path begun in the nurturing climate of New London’s own Connecticut College.