Day 198: Where the Heart Is

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July 16, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

Sometimes, truth is better than fiction.  Better?  What is better?  More incredible, more unbelievable, more genuine and more inspiring?  Truth and reality bring a new dimension to any story – something that pure fiction can’t match.  It allows us to connect in a unique and remarkable way to other human beings, with empathy sharable only between two real-life, living beings with distinct and dynamic sets of eyes, ears, lips and minds.  True stories matter, and when a story comes along with such gravity and depth and truth, the knowledge of its actuality – of its taking place in the same world you inhabit, by someone who breathes the air you breathe, walks on streets like yours, or who, at night, looks up at the same moon you do – is enough to spark a connection that fiction can only pretend to understand*.  Truth is captivating.  Today’s story is true.

Inocente is a documentary about a girl.  Not just a girl, actually.  A girl on the streets of San Diego, who at 15 years old, embodies strength, determination, passion and resilience.  A girl who refuses to go quietly.  A girl struggling and persevering to change her world through expressing her dreams.  A girl who’s walking on the same world as you.

At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Color is her personal revolution and its extraordinary sweep on her canvas creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past— a past punctuated by a father deported for domestic abuse, an alcoholic and defeated mother of four who once took her daughter by the hand to jump off a bridge together, and an endless shuffle year after year through the city’s overcrowded homeless shelters.

*Don’t misunderstand: I’m not dissing fiction.  I’ve actually come to love fiction.  Stories, whether based in our universe or an imagined one, can have profound meaning and impact on us.  Sometimes fiction, because of its boundlessness and imagination, can tell stories even more persuasive and provocative than anything that happened (or is happening) to people on Earth can match.  Still, even fiction has to touch our reality in order to be meaningful; we have to somehow see ourselves in the reflection of a make-believe world in order to take anything with us.  Non-fictional stories are more raw, and rougher around the edges.  The gemstones of relatable lessons are in their natural, worldly state, which isn’t always shiny, and doesn’t have the benefit of being polished and packaged in a pre-conceived plot.  Become a part of Inocente’s life – a real life – a life that matters as much as yours or mine – by backing her story before July 21.


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