Inocente

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Inocente TV Poster Image
Affecting true story of homelessness and the human spirit.

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Positive messages

Inocente celebrates art as an avenue of self-expression and the power of the human spirit. It raises the issues of immigration, abuse, and homelessness in an impartial manner that promotes empathy, giving a voice to a young victim of tragic circumstances who's caught in the middle of it and doing her best to rise above her past. 

Positive role models & representations

Inocente doesn't wallow in her misfortune but uses her experiences to inspire her art. She has adults in her life who help guide her in ways that her mother doesn't, and their presence is what helps her envision a brighter future for herself.

Violence

Inocente and her mother talk in detail about the abuse the family suffered at the hands of Inocente's father. They describe being beaten until they feared for their lives; he used electrical cords and sticks on them as well. Both women mention contemplating suicide as an escape from the emotional pain.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

A.R.T.S. (A Reason to Survive), the nonprofit program that sponsors Inocente's artwork, gets some publicity from the film.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Inocente is a gripping, emotional firsthand account of homelessness and the immigration issue in America as told by a teen who's lived in the midst of it all. There are some graphic accounts of the domestic abuse that Inocente suffered as a child, and she and her mother speak openly about having considered suicide as an escape from their situation. The film doesn't take a political stand on any of the issues, nor does Inocente weigh in on them specifically, but hearing her story will cause you to see them in a new light, regardless of your political convictions. Ultimately, the most lasting message that viewers will take away from this story is of the miracle of hope and the strength of the human spirit.

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What's the story?

INOCENTE is an award-winning documentary centering on a 15-year-old aspiring artist/undocumented immigrant in California. Inocente gives an emotional firsthand account of her life story, from a violently abusive childhood at the hands of her father, who eventually was deported for his actions, to the day-to-day challenges of her family's subsequent homelessness. But Inocente escapes the bleakness of her world through painting, and with the help of a program that uses the arts to reach out to kids facing adversity, she devotes herself to designing a brighter future for herself with her talents.

Is it any good?

Heart-wrenching, uplifting, disturbing, inspiring ... a lot of adjectives can be used to describe this documentary, but perhaps none is more fitting than "thought provoking." Inocente cuts away the political debate surrounding lightning-rod issues and presents a fresh face of immigration and homelessness in America. As Inocente shares her hopes and dreams with childlike innocence that's undeterred by her circumstances, it's impossible not to feel compassion for her circumstances. Regardless of your stance on the issues, this moving documentary will cause you to look at them in a new light.

The filmmakers' choice of a subject for this story couldn't have been better crafted; Inocente's youth is a particular attribute if you choose to share this story with your teens, since it makes the issues more relatable to them. Some of the content is pretty tough to hear, especially when Inocente describes her father's abuse and her unhappy relationship with her mother. It's not a comfortable film to watch, but because it's told entirely in Inocente's voice, it allows viewers to make up their own minds about the issues while simultaneously being inspired by the strength of her spirit. And needless to say, it will leave you and your teens with plenty to discuss at its end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the issue of immigration in Inocente. Why is this such a hot-button issue in our country? How does undocumented immigration affect the economy and racial relations? What do you think might solve the problems this issue raises?

  • Teens: Did this film change how you view the issues it touches on? What do you think of the creators' choice of subject for the story? How might the effect have been different if they'd chosen an adult instead of a teen?

  • Inocente's strength is her ability to dream beyond her surroundings. What do you dream of for your future? How does this reflect where you come from?

  • How does Inocente promote empathy? Why is this an important character strength?

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