Yanillys Perez has won the 2016 Dropbox Discovery Filmmakers Award for “Jeffrey,” her debut feature. The jury for the prize, which comes as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, consisted of Caroline Benjo, Partner and Producer at Haut et Court; Lane Kneedler, Director of Programming at AFI FEST; and Alice Tynan, Dropboxer and film critic. “Jeffrey” focuses on a 12-year-old boy who washes the windshields of passing cars in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and dreams of becoming a reguetón singer.
“A true collaboration between subject and storyteller, ‘Jeffrey’ weaves verite and socially conscious observation together with poetic moments of magical realism,” the jury said in a statement. “With this beautiful combination director Yanillys Perez not only captures the boundless spirit and imagination of her protagonist, but also offers new possibilities for narrative filmmaking. We believe people will love discovering ‘Jeffrey.'”
In a statement provided to Indiewire, Perez said that she was “more than thankful to receive this prize. This prize means so much for the film and for all the crew involved during the four years of the making of it. I would like to specially thank someone with a big heart and a great vision, Diana Sanchez and Diana Cadavid, for believing in the film and allowing us to be part of this magnificent film festival. Thank you Tiff. Thank you to my producer Thibaud Billiard who believed in me from the beginning.
TIFF also announced the rest of its awards today, most notably the Grolsch People’s Choice Award, which went to Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”