Hill staffers gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday to screen the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Inocente,” the moving story of a teenage undocumented immigrant who attempts to overcome years of homelessness and abuse to realize her dream of becoming an artist.
During filming, Inocente Izucar was a 15-year-old who had spent the past nine years of her life bouncing around from homeless shelter to homeless shelter with her mother and brothers. Never spending more than three months at a time in one place, Izucar never had a place to call home and had, at times, contemplated suicide as a way out of her rough life that had been filled with abuse from her father and mother.
But after realizing her talent — and passion — for art through A Reason To Survive, a San Diego-based nonprofit that provides art therapy to troubled youths, Izucar decides to take control of her life and pursue a career as an artist.
Izucar, now 18, was on hand after the screening — along with the documentary’s producers and youth-homelessness advocates — to discuss the importance of funding the arts as a means to help homeless and disadvantaged youth overcome their circumstances.
Izucar said the documentary gave her the exposure she needed to become a bona fide artist and sell her work, and she now has a place to call home where she literally lives out her dream by painting her signature colorful pieces.
She said she hopes to continue to travel the country to share her story via the documentary about her life, providing hope to those in similar situations and advocating for the importance of funding the arts for youths.
Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., had plugged the screening in a "Dear Colleague" letter, but no members of Congress were in attendance at the event.
ARTS Executive Director Matt D’Arrigo was able to stress to the staffers in the audience that the arts are just as important in helping youths rise from poor and underprivileged circumstances as sports or science and technology. He told the staffers he hopes their bosses are able to see the importance of the arts and continue to fund them in schools across the country.
“Kids have different vehicles to find pathways to success, pathways out,” D’Arrigo said. “To diminish the arts and say to somebody, ‘You’re born with this talent, but it’s not as important as science or engineering or technology,’ I think that’s a travesty."