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A movie based on the true story of 18 year-old Latin artist Israel "Reefa" Hernandez whose death by police sparked a national movement.
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345 backers pledged $152,199 to help bring this project to life.

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$152,199

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REEFA is a feature film based on the true story of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, an 18-year-old art prodigy. Israel and his family moved to Miami, Florida from Barranquilla, Colombia on an asylum visa to escape the intensifying threats they had faced back home. Israel’s artistic talent was obvious from a young age, but it flourished during his time at Miami Beach Senior High School, earning him numerous national accolades. His name began popping up all over Wynwood, the mecca for street artists and graffiti writers. Established artists sought out “Reefa” for his beautiful flowers with distinct petals. 

Israel was looking forward to his last summer in Miami with his family and friends before moving to New York City on an art scholarship. He met Frankie, an up-and-coming model in town for a few weeks. Israel and Frankie formed an instant bond, and their improbable friendship became a passionate young love story. On August 6, 2013, Israel decided to spray paint his last wall. There, he was discovered by Miami Beach police officers who chased down, beat, and eventually killed him with a taser using excessive force. Israel’s death sparked outrage in the Miami community and prompted rallies demanding justice, answers, and police reform. The United Nations Committee against Torture is currently examining the case of Israel Hernandez.

The film REEFA is being made with the support of the Hernandez family.  

Starring Jeffrey Wahlberg as Israel Hernandez 

                    Pictured Left: Israel “Reefa” Hernandez / Pictured Right: Jeffrey Wahlberg
Pictured Left: Israel “Reefa” Hernandez / Pictured Right: Jeffrey Wahlberg

Letter From the Director

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. 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, and to quote Israel’s sister Offir, “to learn how to live without my brother is to learn how to live without my arm.” 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.

That was four years ago, and it has been a long journey trying to get this film from script to screen. There have been many sleepless nights spent feeling the immense responsibility of telling Israel’s story; the Hernandez family has tremendous faith in me. Ultimately, I knew this film was worth fighting for, and I’m so glad that I not only stuck with it but also found partners who were willing to fight to make the movie with me. 

We are so close to making the film REEFA a reality. 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. 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.

Thank you for your support.

Jessica 

The Artist Israel “Reefa” Hernandez  

 The Team 

Jessica Kavana Dornbusch (Writer, Director, Producer) is a writer, director, and producer best known for her film Love and Debate (2006), a coming of age story based on her experiences as a high school and college debater. With continued determination to create Made-in-Miami films, Kavana Dornbusch followed her feature film debut with two short films, Escape (2012) and Snap (2015), both filmed in Miami and using Miami locals as actors. Since graduating with honors from Boston University with a BA in Film and International Studies, she has written multiple television pilots and founded Adir 26 Films.

Alejandro Suaya (Producer) is an Argentinian producer and media executive. Since entering the entertainment industry in 1991, he has produced episodes of such popular TV series as Ciega a citas (2009) and Hospital Público (2003) and the documentary Las Manos al piano (2009). Alejandro is CEO of Paradiso Distribution LLC and founding partner and COO of Rola Entertainment, which handles theatrical distribution for Warner Bros Pictures and The Walt Disney Studios. He is currently working on the production of three films: Guilas in Costa Rica, Yo, Mi Mujer y Mi Mujer Muerta in Spain and Argentina, and Reefa in the U.S.

George Perez (Producer) is a businessman and investor born in New York City and currently residing in Miami. In addition to his many business ventures, George has built close ties to film industry leaders and has acted as a consultant on numerous film projects.  Most notably, he served as the Co-Producer of Kill the Irishman (2011) and as an Associate Producer of 300: Rise of an Empire (2014).  

Ed Arenas (Producer) has been working in the film industry for over 25 years. He has cast over 107 feature films including Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II, and Louis Leterrier and Luc Besson’s Transporter 2. Ed is a passionate supporter of emerging talent, young directors, and cutting-edge, independent films. He has championed several women directors, including Laurie Collyer for Sunlight Jr. with Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon (TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL) and Allison Anders for Things Behind the Sun with Eric Stoltz, Rosanne Arquette and Don Cheadle (SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL). 

Daniel Burman (Executive Producer) is an Argentinian film director, screenwriter, and producer. In 1995, he launched his own production company BD-CINE (Burman and Dubcovsky Cine) together with Diego Dubcovsky. Burman is also a founding member of the Academy of Argentine Cinema. According to film critic Joel Poblete, who writes for the cinema magazine Mabuse, Daniel Burman is one of the members of the "New Argentina Cinema,” which began circa 1998. As a Co-producer, he is recognized by films such as The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and Truman (2015). Recently, his TV series EDHA (2018) was bought by Netflix.  

Mike McGowan (Cinematographer) is a 3rd generation filmmaker born and raised in Miami. For the last 25 years, he has worked in the camera department in positions ranging from film loader to Director of Photography on over 60 feature films, 15 seasons of episodic television, and hundreds of commercials and music videos. His work as a steadicam operator has taken him to over 50 countries and earned him entrance into the SOC (the Society of Camera Operators) in 2002. Some of his more notable credits include: The Florida Project, Benji, The Beach Bum, Springbreakers, Wild Things, 2Fast 2Furious, Transporter, Bad Boys, True Lies, Burn Notice, CSI Miami, Dexter, and Amazing Race. 

 In the Media

Israel Hernandez’s death featured on local, national, and international news outlets. It sparked outrage, inspired a movement, encouraged a reevaluation of policing practices in Miami, and prompted an ongoing UN investigation into the cause of death. 

"His death prompted Hernadez’s family to file a lawsuit against the City of Miami Beach and its police, accusing officers of excessive force for their response to such a minor crime — a second-degree misdemeanor that would not likely have resulted in prosecution." Read the full article in the Huffington Post here.

"The death of Hernandez, a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High School and an aspiring artist who had won several local awards for his work, is among a number of recent similar fatalities involving police Tasers in the Miami area." Read the full article in the Guardian here.

"'He was an amazing artist, a very passionate person, a very passionate artist,' said his sister, Offir Hernandez. 'It's unfair to end his life for something he loved.'" Read the full article at CNN here.

"According to Amnesty International, more than 500 people have died in the United States since 2001 after being shocked with stun guns such as Tasers." Read the full article in the New York Times here.

"For criminal justice observers, the decision was not unexpected because of the high legal threshold in charging police officers in Florida...No Florida police officer has been charged with an on-duty shooting since 1989." Read the full article in the Miami Herald here

Want to learn more? Check out coverage at ABC Local News 10 and in the Miami New Times here and here!

R.I.P. Reefa  

Rewards

Check out a few of the skateboards and stickers available as rewards for supporting our film! All originally designed by Israel "Reefa" Hernandez.

Risks and challenges

As with any movie production, there are various risks and challenges. We are offsetting those risks with production insurance, contingency plans, and a production team with years and years of experience. If you fund the project, we intend to start pre-production right away, shoot this coming March, and finish the film in time to submit it to some of the major festivals.

With respect to rewards fulfillment, we will work hard to get all your digital downloads and goodies delivered safely and on schedule. For those of you who are attending an event or joining us on set, we will do our best to keep you in the loop on our schedule. We’ll be posting regular updates about our progress to all backers, so you’ll be the first to know what’s going on.

Important Information About Rewards:

For those of you visiting our set, we anticipate shooting in April in Miami. However, this has the potential to change. We will keep you updated so you can plan ahead to visit us.
If you become an extra ($500 reward), you must be a US citizen or have a US work visa, and not be a member of SAG/AFTRA.

You must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (who will count as your plus one) to attend the premiere or visit the set. Extras must also be over 18.
Some rewards may require additional paperwork. If you are appearing in the film, you will have to sign a release.

This fundraising campaign is all subject to applicable Kickstarter rules/regulations, movie guild rules and applicable law. If any of this conflicts, we will work with you in good faith to give you a substitute reward.

Overall, movie making is a crazy business with a lot of unknown factors. We start with a powerful story and a script we’re really proud of. We assemble the best team possible, get insurance, and make contingency plans. There are no guarantees everything will go as planned, but in the end, we will have created a movie that hopefully will inspire audiences. It's a great journey, and we thank you in advance for helping make this possible.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Thank you in Social Media

    Elect to have us publicly thank you for your contribution from an official REEFA film social media account.

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    Digital Copy of Our Movie!

    You’ll be the first to receive a digital copy of our movie upon release PLUS we'll thank you on social media!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Thank You
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    59 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Original Reefa-designed Stickers

    Receive original stickers designed by Israel “Reefa” Hernandez PLUS a digital copy of the film and our thanks via social media!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Thank You
    • Digital Copy REEFA Film
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Original REEFA Film T-shirt

    You’ll receive an exclusive, one-of-a-kind cast and crew REEFA film t-shirt. This t-shirt will never be for sale and will only be available to members of the cast and crew and our Kickstarter backers. PLUS we'll also send you a digital copy of the film PLUS Reefa original stickers PLUS a thank you in social media!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Thank You
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • Digital Copy REEFA Film
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Exclusive Content Package

    You’re officially part of the film! You’ll receive exclusive digital access to behind-the scenes footage as well as a preview of the REEFA film teaser and a signed PDF of the shooting script once the film wraps. PLUS we'll thank you on our social media PLUS send you original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, and a digital copy of our film!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Thank You
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Digital Copy REEFA Film
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Signed Screenplay!

    In addition to all of the rewards previously listed, you’ll receive a print copy of the original screenplay signed by writer-director Jessica Kavana Dornbusch. PLUS you'll have access to our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews PLUS we're thanking you via social media and sending you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Thank You
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Digital Copy REEFA Film
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    26 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Be an Extra in the Movie!

    We will include you as a background extra in the filming of one scene in the movie. In addition, your name will be attached to the film by appearing in the “Special Thanks” section of the end film credit crawl. Filming takes place in Miami. Travel not included. You'll also receive our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews PLUS we'll gift you a signed copy of the screenplay PLUS we'll be sending you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Signed Screenplay
    • Digital Copy REEFA Film
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    23 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Signed Poster and Early Screening

    You’re invited to an exclusive early cast & crew film screening in Miami! We’ll also send you an original theatrical poster signed by the director and principal members of the cast. Travel not included. PLUS you'll be an extra in our film PLUS have access to our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews. PLUS we'll be giving you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, a signed copy of the screenplay, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Signed Screenplay
    • Be A Film Extra
    • "Special Thanks" Credit
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    18 backers
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Reefa Art Book and Premiere Tickets

    It’s a wrap! We’re sending you two tickets to attend the movie premiere in Miami. In addition, you’ll receive a book featuring Israel “Reefa” Hernandez’s original artwork, signed by his family. Travel not included. PLUS we're inviting you to be an extra in our film and to attend the cast & crew screening! PLUS you'll have access to our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews. PLUS we'll be giving you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, a signed copy of the screenplay and signed poster, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Signed Screenplay
    • Be A Film Extra
    • "Special Thanks" Credit
    • Signed Poster
    • Cast & Crew Screening
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    4 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Premier VIP and After Party Invite

    You’re invited to the film premiere! You and another VIP will enjoy a cocktail party with the director and producers before you walk the red carpet and have your photo taken. You and your guest are invited to celebrate with us at the after party in Miami. Travel not included. PLUS we're inviting you to be an extra in our film! PLUS you'll have access to our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews. PLUS we'll be giving you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, a signed copy of the screenplay and signed poster, the Reefa Art Book, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Signed Screenplay & Poster
    • Be A Film Extra
    • "Special Thanks" Credit
    • Reefa Art Book
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    3 backers
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    Pledge $7,500 or more About $7,500

    Day on Set and An Original Skateboard

    What better way to celebrate production of REEFA than to spend a day on the film set in Miami? Watch us film a scene, have lunch with the cast, and witness the movie making magic! Filming will take place in Miami, FL. At the end of an unforgettable day, we’re giving you an original skateboard designed by Israel “Reefa” Hernandez. Combining skateboarding and art using Californian wood. Travel not included. PLUS you'll be our VIP at the film premier and attend the after party! PLUS you'll have access to our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews. PLUS we'll be giving you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, a signed copy of the screenplay and signed poster, the Reefa Art Book, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Signed Screenplay & Poster
    • "Special Thanks" Credit
    • Reefa Art Book
    • Premier VIP & After Party Access
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Become An Associate Producer

    Thank you for helping bring our film to life! You are now an honorary associate producer of the movie REEFA. Join the director and producers for cocktails, walk the red carpet as our VIP, attend the after party, and enjoy a two night stay on us at the iconic luxury hotel Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Travel not included. PLUS you'll spend a day as our guest on set and be an extra in our film! PLUS you'll have access to our exclusive content package featuring behind-the-scenes footage and previews. PLUS we'll be giving you Reefa original stickers, an exclusive REEFA film t-shirt, a signed copy of the screenplay and signed poster, the Reefa Art Book, an original Reefa-designed skateboard, and a digital copy of the film!

    Includes:
    • Reefa Original Stickers
    • REEFA Film T-shirt
    • Exclusive Content Package
    • Signed Screenplay & Poster
    • Original Reefa-designed Skateboard
    • Reefa Art Book
    • Day On Set
    • Be A Film Extra
    • Premier VIP & After Party Access
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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    2 backers
    $
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Funding period

- (30 days)