Afrofuturism and astrology guide the main character of the new R&A trailer towards something new. Director Ima Iduozee and producer Swati Goyal tell us about their influences and thoughts behind the trailer.

The first phase of the moon, the new moon, appears as a lunar eclipse as the sun shines from the opposite side. Although human eye can’t detect this from Earth, the moon shines brightly on the other side.

–The eclipse is an inevitable part of life, says Ima Iduozee, the director of the new R&A festival trailer.

–We live in very uncertain and polarizing times. History is repeating itself. As epidemics, wars and financial crises all intertwine, there’s new art, culture and means of expression being born to battle the air of fear, says Iduozee.

Examining Imagery From A New Angle

Although the New Moon -trailer reaches towards the future, the beginning of the trailer is very tied to our times. Statues fall as they’re pulled down from their pedestals and thrown in the water. The contrast between the almost violent imagery of the prologue and the rest of the trailer gives the timely subject matter a new angle.

New Moon trailer was directed by Ima Iduozee and produced by Swati Goyal. Photo: Mitro Härkönen

Archive footage from the Black Lives Matter -protests has been carefully selected. The imagery has been taken from the news and social media from the past few months, tells Iduozee.

–Change requires letting go of the old and reorganizing things. Colonials powers and colonialists’ statues are being torn down and thrown in the sea, after which they will end up in museums, where they belong, he says.

The trailer is produced by Balansia Films and its CEO Swati Goyal acts as the producer. She wishes for the trailer to also prompt the viewer to think why we’re so used to seeing a certain type of imagery.

–The imagery we see is still very white and very gendered. I hope the viewer could consider the reasons why the imagery in the trailer is still so new to us in 2020, Goyal wonders.

Iduozee nods. For a larger audience to able to relate to the characters, it was thought that the characters must look like what the assumed audience looks like.

–As Black and non-white viewers, we were forced to relate to these characters, regardless of whether they looked like us because there were no other options. It’s not impossible for me to relate to the mind-set of a middle-aged white man, it just took a lot of repetition, he points out.

Shooting the trailer with Betadi Mandunga ja Cico Toure. Photo: Mitro Härkönen

–I hope we’ll see more film where Black and brown people will be cast as something else than the antagonist or a victim. Because otherness is always born in relation to the current ideological norm, I wanted to shift the focus back to the viewer themselves and what ideologies are behind the gaze with the trailer, Iduozee continues.

No to compromising

Iduozee is happy no content-related or political compromises had to be made regarding the trailer. Making the trailer for R&A was a dream come true of sorts for the director. For him, the festival is a pioneer.

–R&A has shown a lot of bold curation choices. It’s not afraid to deviate from the mainstream, he ponders.

The trailer was shot in a hangar among other locations. In the photo dancers tanssijat Ashley Zainab, Gaby Ooi, Violet Ly, Sandra Odiase ja Imose Iduozee. In steadicam Jyrimatti Holm. Photo: Mitro Härkönen

Goyal and Iduozee have worked together before and now both were able to focus on their key strengths. Iduozee describes the team as “the number one team, one that can’t be beat”. Balansia Films crew were also excited by the trailer order.

–Balansia often works on short films, documentaries, music videos and TV spots. This trailer felt like something we had been practicing for years, Goyal says.

From rocks to the runways and below the sea

The trailer moves from rocks by the sea to an observatory, from a runway to underwater. With the help of astrology and afrofuturism, the character – and the viewer – travels towards the future.

Marie Iradukunda being prepared for underwater scene. Photo: Mitro Härkönen

The term afrofuturism, developed by Mark Dery, is used to describe a certain cultural expression in which afrodiasporic culture, African mythology, technology and for example, sci-fi meet. Imagining alternative realities is crucial, says Iduozee.

Afrofuturistic artist can be found in all areas of art. Jazz composer Sun Ra, musician and actress Janelle Monae, writer Octavia Butler, artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Iduozee lists as examples of well-known names.

Main character Monica Tour and makeup artist Jennifer Appleton. Photo: Mitro Härkönen

Also known as a dancer and a choreographer alongside directing, Iduozee often uses afrofuturism in his work.

–I hope we can examine the current, explosive climate from a higher perspective. Although this often seems apocalyptic, change gives way for something new, Iduozee believes. ■

Text: Kiira Koskela
Translation: Maria Lättilä