We’ve long been fans of filmmaker Will Robson-Scott and his ability to create genuinely interesting longer-form pieces in an era when conventional wisdom holds that in the realm of online video, shorter is better. His secret lies in being able to make beautiful looking work and steer a narrative through often quite nuanced subject matter, a delicate combination we often see skewed one way or the other to the detriment of the final film. Nowhere though have I seen Will’s talents better reflected than in his exceptional new piece Chi Raq, a 13-minute documentary looking at the violence under which swathes of Chicago are besieged.
Since 2001, 265 people have been killed in the city – two and a half times more than the number of US personal killed in Afghanistan. Will seeks out the stories that bring this extraordinary statistic to life and his particular skill for interviewing comes to the fore across a host of subjects, eliciting astonishing lines like: “The caskets are getting shorter and shorter nowadays.”
But this isn’t about shock value; in fact the film has a maturity and a restraint which could well signal the start of a new stage in Will’s already impressive career. He has also produced a zine to accompany Chi Raq to help bring his message home.