Woo Presents: Rare: The Boy Who Cried Swag

2 mins
02 Nov 2022
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Starring model Rico Sanches, this visually complex short fractures the fiction of the American dream

words Team Woo

Directed by filmmaker duo King She, Rare: The Boy Who Cried Swag is a visually compelling exploration of race, identity and self-healing which won three Young Director Awards earlier this year. Starring Rico Sanches, the short film delves into the model's high fashion credentials and eccentric style before taking us deep into his psyche.

Building a surreal atmosphere through an oneiric score and a juxtaposition of frenetic moments, glitchy special effects and digital livestreams and text with languid, cinematic visuals of Sanches in domestic and natural settings, the film has a dream-like quality as the model's personal history slowly unspools on camera. Layered over these textured visuals is spoken-word delivered by Sanches, exploring his inner space and meditating on themes of trauma and self-healing.

The filmmakers refer to the piece as a work of docu-sculpture: despite the stylised approach, a real story is being shared. This is the truth behind Sanches' upbringing in Washington DC where his teenage brother Raphael Briscoe was a fatal victim of police brutality. In the latter section of the short, Sanches' dialogue and the flow of the video is interspersed with cuts from archive photos as film explores the impact of the consequent trauma on his family and sense of self.

Sanches' brother Briscoe was killed in 2011 at the age of 18 after being shot in the back by a police "jump out" squad comprising of an unmarked police car carrying three officers in plain clothing. Authorities claimed that Briscoe was carrying a BB gun found near the scene of the crime, however none of his prints were found on the device.

Briscoe's family sought justice through a lawsuit carried out by the American Civil Liberties Union in order to uncover surveillance footage of the event. The footage was released but a jury cleared the officers of murder charges.

There is a Change.org petition calling for Briscoe's case to be reopened so that his family will know what happened to him in his final moments and aim to hold his killers accountable. It currently has over 67,000 signatures and you can add yours here.

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