Private Project


Israel “Reefa” Hernandez Jr, an 18-year-old Colombian immigrant and talented artist, is spending his last summer in Miami with friends, family and his new girl Frankie before moving to New York City on an art scholarship. While Israel and his friends skateboard the city streets and spray paint the walls of Wynwood, Miami’s graffiti Mecca, anxieties emerge twofold: Israel and his family nervously await their Green Cards while he desperately seeks recognition for his art. On August 6, 2013, as Israel spray paints one last wall which would command immediate respect from his peers, a fatal encounter with a police officer leaves his family and friends devastated, the Miami community outraged, and the country reeling from another case of police brutality

  • Jessica Kavana Dornbusch
    Love and Debate, Escape, Snap
  • Jessica Kavana Dornbusch
    Love and Debate, Escape, Snap
  • Alejandro Suaya
    Guilas, Mitos, Crónicas De Amor, Mejore Hablar De Ciertas Cosas
  • George Perez
    Kill the Irishman, 300: Rise of an Empire, The 5th
  • Jessica Kavana Dornbusch
    Love and Debate, Escape, Snap, The Drowning
  • Tyler Dean Flores
    Key Cast
    "Israel "Reefa" Hernandez"
    When They See Us, Already Gone, The Dark Knight Rises
  • Clara McGregor
    Key Cast
    Christopher Robin, Bagdad, Florida
  • Margarita Rosa de Francisco
    Key Cast
    "Jacqueline Hernandez"
    Narcos, García, Paraiso Travel, Fidel
  • José Zúñiga
    Key Cast
    "Israel Hernandez Sr."
    Alive, American Crime Story, Mission: Impossible III, Snowfall
  • Ricardo Chavira
    Key Cast
    "Officer Morales"
    Desperate Housewives, Jane the Virgin, Monk
  • Cinthya Carmona
    Key Cast
    "Offir Hernandez"
    The Tax Collector, Repeater, A Dark Foe
  • George Sear
    Key Cast
    Into the Badlands, The Evermore Chronicles, Will
  • Ezana Alem
    Key Cast
    Code Black, Staying Afloat, Oasis
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Coming-of-Age, Based on a True Story
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 36 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 2, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    1,100,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
    Arri Alexa Mini
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Endeavor Content
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
  • Vertical Entertainment
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Jessica Kavana Dornbusch

Jessica Kavana Dornbusch is a writer and director best known for her film LOVE AND DEBATE, a coming of age story set in Miami that is based on her experiences as a Harvard debater. With continued determination to make made-in-Miami films, Kavana Dornbusch followed her feature film debut with two short films, ESCAPE and SNAP, both of which examine the proliferation of loneliness in a city as sensual and electric as Miami Beach. Kavana Dornbusch was born to immigrant parents from Uruguay, and often speaks of the impact that had on her childhood and view of the world.

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Director Statement

I first heard Israel’s story in August 2013. News of his death spread quickly, featuring on local and national news. Though Israel's story haunted me, it would be a year before I had the courage to reach out to his family to discuss the possibility of turning their son’s life into a feature film. At the time, stories of unarmed civilians unnecessarily killed by the police seemed endless: Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner among them. But for me, there was always something different about Israel’s story. Perhaps it was that he had been killed on a street my friends and I frequented during our high-school and post-college days. Perhaps it was that Israel and I were both the children of immigrants, and as such, I knew first-hand the sacrifices immigrant parents go through, what they leave behind, in order to raise their families in America. Like Israel’s mother, I too have a son and a daughter who are incredibly close. It was all these things and the image of a beautiful boy skateboarding through Miami, as many artists painted homages to Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, that inspired and encouraged me to make this film. Then from the moment I met Israel’s family and saw his artwork close-up, I knew this story had to be told.

Now more than ever, films like these need to be made. We need to see life through the eyes of immigrants to truly understand their sacrifice. The Hernandez family sought to protect their children from intensifying dangers in Colombia only to lose their son in America by those sworn to protect and defend. Most importantly, the world needs to see the beauty of an artistic soul. We are making a movie about Israel’s life, not his death: a love letter to my city and to an artist I will never meet but admire and know so well.

Jessica Kavana Dornbusch