A San Diego teenager’s film based on her emotional true life story won an Academy Award Sunday.
Inocente Izucar, 19, detailed her dark past in a documentary titled "Inocente." The film was nominated for best documentary in the short subject category.
"For me, the biggest thing was because we won, more people will see it," Inocente told NBC 7 the day after her big win. "Because of this honor we have, hopefully I'll be able to inspire more people and hopefully be able to talk to people and show them how never giving up and following your dreams can get you so far in life."
In the 40-minute documentary, the film tells the story of not only an undocumented homeless young immigrant, but a girl whose mother once tried to commit suicide and a father deported for domestic abuse.
"I didn't understand that we were illegal," Izucar told NBC San Diego. "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 attended the Academy Awards with the filmmakers on Sunday. She said she was nervous, but couldn't 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."