By Dawn C. Chmielewski
4:42 PM CST, February 25, 2013
"Inocente," the story of a 15-year-old homeless San Diego girl who pursues her art despite her bleak surroundings, is the first Kickstarter-backed film to win an Academy Award.
The makers of the documentary short film raised $52,527 from 294 backers last summer -- one of three Kickstarter-funded Oscar nominees this year.
"We were really excited that Inocente ... a young homeless girl, can stand on the stage in front of a billion people and show the world that homeless kids have a voice," said Sean Fine, who directed the film with his wife, Andrea Nix Fine, in a backstage interview. "And so that's an amazing, amazing thing."
The directors talked about the growing importance of crowdfunding -- online networks of individuals who pool their money to back a project -- in helping fund movie projects. The documentary, which follows the story of a young, undocumented immigrant who pursues her dream of becoming an artist, even though she has been homeless for the last nine years.
The Fines had completed about three-quarters of the film when they elected to look for support through Kickstarter.
"Not only are you raising funds for your film, but you're building a community and an audience and people that care about the film," Andrea Nix Fine said backstage after winning the Academy Award. "They're watching tonight, and you know they flipped out when the film won. So that feels great."
"Inocente" isn't the first Kickstarter project to have been nominated for an Oscar.
Another 2013 Academy Award-nominated documentary short film, "Kings Point," raised money through the online network, as did the live-action short nominee "Buzkashi Boys," a coming of age story filmed in Afghanistan.
Kickstarter-backed Oscar contenders in previous years included "Incident in New Baghdad," "Sun Come Up" and "The Barber of Birmingham."