For three years, filmmaker Yanillys Perez filmed 12-year old Jeffrey and his family. Jeffrey, whose name is actually Joselito, lives in a small home in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital with his mother, brothers and sister. He has washed windshields on the city’s busy streets since he was six to help keep the family alive. Jeffrey dreams of becoming a famous reggaeton vocalist and, thanks to a catchy tune he has penned with his brother, it seems as if that might actually become a reality.
In her first feature-length documentary, Perez mixes the harsh reality of Jeffrey’s life (and that of many other children) with subtle editorial interventions such as scenes in which Jeffrey seeks calm, comfort or an outlet in his favourite tree. Jeffrey won the Dropbox Discovery Filmmakers Award at Toronto International Film Festival for the unique collaboration between the director and the lead as well as the mingling of realistic and poetic elements.