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Inocente Izucar, 19, participated in a film that has been nominated for an Oscar.
A film based on a San Diego teenager’s emotional true-life story has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Inocente Izucar, 19, detailed her dark past in a documentary titled "Inocente." The film has been nominated for best documentary in the short subject category.
In the 40-minute documentary, the film tells the story of a chornically homeless undocumented immigrant whose mother once tried to commit suicide and whose father was deported for domestic abuse.
"I didn't understand that we were illegal," Izucar told NBC. "My mom didn't really tell us so we were left in the dark, which was a good thing 'cause no little kid wants to be scared that he's gonna be deported."
Izucar describes her father beating her in the film, saying that he would find any reason he could to hit her.
Using art as her outlet, she found the support she needed through a program called "ARTS: A reason to survive."
ARTS is a National City nonprofit that provides everything from therapeutic arts programming to education, for at-risk youth.
Matt D’Arrigo, who founded the organization, said the film sends a message about arts education, homelessness and immigration.
"She puts a face to all of it and she's a real person with feelings and I think it's such an important tool that can hopefully have an impact to show that she's not just a number or a statistic that this is what's happening in America," he said.
Izucar’s painful story took the teen from homeless to Hollywood.
"Man, I think everybody cried when we heard it was up for an Oscar," D’Arrigo said.
Izucar will be attending the Academy Awards with the filmmakers on Sunday. She says she is nervous, but cannot wait to be reunited with everyone who helped put this film together.
"Because of the fact that it's nominated I think more people will see it," said Izucar. "And that's the biggest thing for me."