Israel ‘Reefa’ Hernandez (Tyler Dean Flores) lived with his father, Israel Sr. (José Zúñiga), mother, Jackeline (Margarita Rosa de Francisco) and little sister, Offir (Cinthya Carmona) in Miami on a visa while waiting to go to school in New York to study art. Israel had a passion for art and life and in particular graffiti art which would help him make his mark in the world.
He was a good-looking young man with charm, wit and the whole world ahead of him. Then one day while working on a photoshoot he met a young model named Frankie (Clara McGregor) and thanks to his smooth talking, they hit it off and started dating.
However, Reefa’s parents are concerned about their son because although he has a lot of potential, they know that they should keep their heads down in fear of being deported back to Colombia.
Reefa is a bittersweet coming of age drama and true story about the young life of Israel ‘Reefa’ Hernandez, written and directed by Jessica Kavana Dornbusch. It tells the story of a young man taken too soon in his prime by a police officer who was meant to be keeping the peace and upholding the law.
Reefa himself comes across as a young man who not only had a whole life waiting for him, but had everything every young man would want in spades. Flores’ performance is likeable and charming and with Dornbusch’s script, Reefa becomes a driven young man who knew what he wanted and knew how to get it. Not to mention that he had a talent for saying just the right things to Frankie when it counted.
Reefa not only shows the small, close knit family, but also the community and environment of Miami and captures it perfectly so that it’s not just a place where Reefa lived, but a part of his identity.
Many immigrants come to the US hoping to have a better life and nobody expected Reefa to be a victim of police brutality. Hopefully Reefa’s story will be seen far and wide and serve as yet another reminder that to bring peace, there has to be change.
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