I hear great things about San Francisco from visitors. “Everyone’s so friendly”, “It’s so cool here”. Which it is. But there’s always the one complaint, “There’s so many homeless people here.”
San Francisco has a long history of homeless. During the 1980’s, the City blamed Vietnam and the Drug Culture for the growing number of people on the street. At the same time, President Regan cut funding to Section 8 and public housing in half after systematically closing mental hospitals as Governor of California. The Regan administration continued cuts funding to mental health programs through his presidency.
The homeless in SF is bothersome to some. It makes people feel uncomfortable, and forces people to ignore humanity in others and pretend they’re not there. It’s estimated that 39% person of homeless in the US have some kind of mental illness and 22% have been diagnosed with a chronic condition. So, when someone in my own family began to suffer from serious mental illness, I couldn’t pretend to not see the homeless any more.
I shot this video so that I could really see them in juxtaposition with the consumerism and masses of “normal” people in the Downtown. They are always there. We just never see them.
The city has mainly dealt with them through “sweeps” in which the homeless are displaced, in order to make them less visible.
Inocente, though only 15 when this documentary was made, speaks with a wisdom, knowledge, and deep understanding of how her art is a doorway to personal and emotional freedom. She paints the colors of her life, sharing and transforming the struggles of being a young, homeless, Latina, from an undocumented and abusive family into beautifully expressive works of healing art.
Her creativity, passion, and determination is a force that has helped to turn her life around, sending roots down deep to ground herself in her own unique identity and find herself in a place where she can finally feel at home. In the fashion of a true healing artist, as she heals herself, she heals her family, and all who come into contact with her or her canvases and see her beauty.
Check this powerful short doc, that is the first ever crowd funded short to win an Oscar. Watch and be touched as Inocente heals herself through her paint.