The Academy Awards on Sunday had a bit of New London representation among the winners: Sean Fine's Inocente.
Fine, a 1996 Connecticut College graduate, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for the film along with his wife, Andrea Nix Fine. The 40-minute feature follows a 15-year-old homeless girl and illegal immigrant, Inocente Izucar, as she uses art to transcend her situation on the streets of San Diego.
“When they called our names, it just seemed really surreal,” Fine said during a backstage Oscar interview, according to a press release from Connecticut College.
While at Connecticut College, Fine designed his own major of zoology and filmmaking. He graduated in 1996 and worked on several films for National Geographic, including one that won him an Emmy Award in 2000. He and Nix Fine married in 2003 and formed the company Fine Films in Washington, D.C.
Production on Inocente began three years ago with the early concept of a film on homeless children. They found Izucar through an arts program for at-risk children. According to NBC Latino, the now 19-year-old Izucar has since been able to put on her first art exhibit and make a living from her talent.
According to BBC News, Inocente also marks the first time a film funded by Kickstarter has won an Oscar. The Fines raised $52,527 through 294 sources of funding.
Sunday was not the first time the Fines have been to the Oscars. The duo's 2008 documentary War Dance, about Ugandan children striving to win a national music competition, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature. War Dance won numerous other awards, including the Emmys for Best Documentary and Best Cinematography as well as the Sundance Film Festival's award for Best Documentary Direction.
Fine previously told Connecticut College's alumni magazine that Professor Janis Solomon, who is now the Lucretia L. Allyn Professor Emeritus of German, and Theodore Hendrickson, associate professor of art, helped him toward his goals.
“I was so grateful that they encouraged me to pursue my interests," he said. "I wasn’t squashed because I didn’t fit the mold. I had freedom."
The Fines are currently developing four scripts in development for feature films. They recently screened their latest film, Life According to Sam, at the Sundance Film Festival.