This feature documentary focuses on a 12-year-old street windshield washer in Santo Domingo who yearns to become a reguetón singer, and with the help of his older brother composes and records songs about his life, his neighbourhood, and his dreams for the future.
Twelve-year-old Jeffrey has the responsibilities of an adult; he works as a windshield washer on the busy streets of Santo Domingo to help his mom make ends meet at home. But the boy has big plans. He dreams of becoming a reggaeton singer, and, in collaboration with his older brother Jeyson, he composes and records songs about his neighbourhood, his way of life, and his dreams for the future.
Yanillys Perez's feature documentary debut Jeffrey treads a fine line between fiction and reality. Jeffrey is an actual boy, and everything we see is genuine, but it is sometimes shot with such stylization that it looks like a narrative film. We watch through this lens as Jeffrey looks for customers, tries to avoid turf wars with other windshield washers, spends time at home with his family, and climbs his special tree — a tree to which he often speaks of his hopes for a better life. Through Perez's intimate engagement with Jeffrey, we discover many of the struggles that children in Santo Domingo have to contend with.
The Dominican Republic is perhaps best known to North Americans for its golf courses, pristine beaches, and all-inclusive resorts. Jeffrey, in capturing not just the nation's beauty but its heat, traffic, and poverty, is a powerful reminder of its many layers. And Perez's filmmaking highlights the resilience and dynamism of a young boy whom most people would just wave off as they drive away.