Until fairly recently, 19-year-old Inocente Izucar had pretty much the shittiest childhood imaginable. An illegal immigrant, Inocente ended up homeless at a young age after her father was deported back to Mexico. She spent the majority of her childhood living on the streets and in shelters with her mother and three younger brothers. At one point, things got so bad that Inocente’s mother led her by the hand to a bridge where she planned to have them both jump off together, before being talked out of it by her daughter.
Her luck changed a few years ago when Academy Award-nominated producing couple Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine decided to make a documentary about her and her art (which you can watch the trailer for above). On Sunday, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, and Inocente was there to collect the award. Her appearance was a refreshing change from the parade of the rich and famous men who make up the majority of the ceremony, so I got in touch with Inocente, Sean, and Andrea to talk with them about the experience.
VICE: First I just wanna say congrats on the Oscar win. Inocente Izucar: Thank you.
How did you guys meet Inocente? Andrea Nix Fine: We looked for her for months and months. She was our needle in a haystack. Basically, we really wanted to make a film about a homeless kid, because we came across the statistic that one in 45 kids in the US experiences homelessness. It’s something we felt nobody really knew about and nobody was paying attention to, so we were very interested in doing a film where we found somebody going through that experience, and we were particularly interested in finding an artist because I felt that would be a wonderful way to meet somebody and experience her dreams. So we just started calling all over the country and eventually we ended up talking to a San Diego-based group called A Reason to Survive that helps kids who face adversity get into art, and they introduced us to Inocente.
And, Inocente, what was your situation like when you met the Fines, for people who haven’t seen the film? Inocente: I was 15, and I’d been homeless for like, nine years.
Would you mind describing the events that led up to your becoming homeless? Inocente: Well, my dad basically kidnapped me and my three brothers and brought us up to the US from Mexico. He told my mom he would come get her later, but he never did, so my mom crossed the border by herself to come find us. When she got here, he was really abusive. And one day it was really bad, so we called the cops. Here in the US domestic violence isn’t tolerated, so when the cops came, he was deported. The place we were living was his sister’s house, and because it was his side of the family, we ended up in the shelter.
Last week VICE debuted the short film Bear by Nash Edgerton, so this week I’d like to highlight its predecessor, Spider. Spider follows the well-intentioned Jack, played by Edgerton, who is always on uncertain terms with his girlfriend, Jill. Things between the two of them would be alright if he’d just heed his mom’s advice, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”
I think everyone can relate to Jack, who’s always running headfirst into things and not thinking them through. You can see the climax in Spider coming a mile away, but when it comes you realize objects far away are a lot bigger and more fucked than they appear. Once you make it out of Spider’s web, be sure to check outBear if you haven’t already or watch it again to catch all of the hidden gems you might have missed the first time around. And remember, always listen to your mom.
[Editor’s Note: Welcome to “I’m Short, Not Stupid,” a weekly column focused on highlighting rare and obscure short films. Enjoy this flick (the video is at the bottom) and check back next week for another peculiar adventure in the art of short moving pictures.]
Bear is not a classic story of two lovers, two lovers fighting, two lovers making up, and two lovers living happily ever after. Jack, played by director Nash Edgerton, is a fuck up with a good heart. He also always seems to have something up his sleeve. The film begins with sage words from Jill, Jack’s ex-girlfriend who went all the way down the drain in Nash’s previous short film, Spider (which will debut on VICE next week). Unfortunately, Jack’s new girlfriend, Emelie, doesn’t know about his pension for pranks and has no idea the wild ride in store for her. Both Bear and Spider are crafted around the premise of a boyfriend messing up and attempting to right his wrong with a theatrical gesture.
Nash has been on the scene for some time, making his mark as an actor, stuntman, writer, and director. While doing stunts for big budget features—like the Matrix trilogy andthe Star Wars prequels—he made a number of music videos, including three for Bob Dylan. His original work is darkly comic, violent, and expertly executed. And Bear is no exception.
There are many reasons Bear is so effective: good actors, realistic characters, beautiful cinematography, and a smart script. However, what really takes it over the top is Nash’s closely controlled reveals in story and character that string the audience along so we’re just as stunned as Emelie is when Jack makes his big “transformation.”