bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
[personal profile] bironic
Title: "Ancillary Justice" book trailer
Fandom: Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie
Music: "Nad Dunaem" by DakhaBrakha and "Epic Drums" by Immediate Music (edited)
Length: 1:28
Summary: Nineteen years, three months, and one week ago, I was a troop carrier.
Content notes: Several people get shot or are threatened with guns by members of a military force.
Physical notes: Zoom effects on some of the titles and clips.

A/N: A labor of love, nine months in the making. I watched or scanned through about 50 movies and TV shows (plus endless YouTube videos) in the hunt for clips that looked like my headcanon of critical moments, places and characters from the books, while trying not to use hugely recognizable actors and actresses. Not that you'd know it from the final source list, but the research process involved reading and learning a lot about the history of black characters in Western science fiction film and television as well as a crash course in modern African SF/F independent filmmaking, both of which were fascinating.

I ended up short in some areas and with more footage than I needed in others, and had to make some tough decisions, not all of which I'm perfectly happy with -- but when faced with the choice to either piece together what I had and turn it in for the perfect themed vidshow at Vividcon ("No source? No problem," curated by [personal profile] revolutionaryjo, highlighting fanvids for canons without obvious visual material, like books and podcasts) or to obsess over it for another nine months, I chose the former. And here we are.

If you've read Ancillary Justice, I hope this brings you joy. If you haven't, maybe this will pique your interest.

Thank you to everyone who helped out with brainstorming, source ideas, file acquisition, soundboarding, script revisions, translation and beta watching, including: [personal profile] stultiloquentia, [personal profile] thedeadparrot, [personal profile] jjhunter, [personal profile] jetpack_monkey, [personal profile] chagrined, [personal profile] alpheratz, [personal profile] nightdog_barks, [personal profile] eruthros, [personal profile] violace, [personal profile] futuransky, [personal profile] no_detective, [personal profile] cosmic_llin, [personal profile] thingswithwings, [personal profile] sholio, [personal profile] kabal42, [personal profile] cinco, [personal profile] zulu, [personal profile] deelaundry, [personal profile] thirdblindmouse, [personal profile] kiki_miserychic, [personal profile] grammarwoman, [personal profile] ghost_lingering, [personal profile] daasgrrl, R. and J. It took a village. I hope you agree the results were worth it.

Streaming on Vimeo | YouTube | AO3 | Twitter | Tumblr | Download mp4

"Ancillary Justice" book trailer from bironic on Vimeo.

SCRIPT (adapted from the source text)

19 years, 3 months, and 1 week ago, I was a troop carrier
An artificial intelligence linked to an army of ancillaries
Until the Lord of the Radch destroyed all but one body

I've followed the trail from planet to planet
Risked failure and death
To obtain justice
Before everything falls to pieces


I listened to a lot of polyphony and shape-note singing before settling on a single female voice blended with more traditional trailer music. Something just makes me think Justice of Toren would enjoy DakhaBrakha's harmonies. The excerpted lyrics aren't important for understanding the vid, but they are:

Над Дунаєм стояла
Над Дунаєм стояла
Косу русу чесал(а)

Which a collaborative of friends settled on a translation of: "Standing over the Danube, she combed out her golden hair."


In order of appearance: Halo/UNSC Infinity, Total Recall (2012), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Expanse, Pumzi, Killjoys, Planet Earth (BBC), Stargate: Continuum, Interstellar, "Bowl Tea" by Wu De, Only Lovers Left Alive, "Brave Man's Bridge" in Shiniuzhai National Geological Park/China, Men in Black III, Doctor Who, bronze statue of Kali, Blade II, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Firefly, Ascension, Gravity, Virtuality, Sunshine, After Earth, Une Africaine dans l'Espace

ETA: Okay, for the record, because wow: Ann Leckie's blog post/Tumblr post/tweet, Metafilter,

Date: Aug. 12th, 2016 10:59 pm (UTC)
isis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] isis
Oh, that was so cool! I especially liked the snow-planet scene and the bridge followed by a falling-effect, which both really grounded it in the book for me!

The vidshow theme sounds really interesting and I hope to be able to see some of the other vids used in it.

Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 03:05 pm (UTC)
isis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] isis

Gosh, thanks for the links! The Raven Cycle vid was lovely, and many of the others look relevant to my interest.

And how cool that Ann Leckie linked your work!

Date: Aug. 12th, 2016 11:55 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
Well, that is fucking terrific.

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 12:41 am (UTC)
jjhunter: profile of human J.J. with goggles and a band of gears running down her face; inked in reds and browns (steampunk J.J.)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter

Um, yes. Yes yes yes. Some fragmentary first impression highlights:

- the bolding / lingering of the text "one body" in context of single voice singing works really well

- that pace change! where the drums kick in / up and the clips start pounding by and then the moment there's a hint at breathing space again you've got Breq | One Esk Nineteen spinning out into the dark - as a viewer I started to draw breath, spotted the significant of 'oh shit that part' and gasped / held in sympathetic mirroring of the predicament well into the blanking (blacking out?) of the screen to give the credits.

- overall, there's this sense of going from a more remote POV (quite literally, in seeing ship body from distances where the ship is moving but the POV itself seems almost fixed) with isolated flashes / flash-backs interspersed with text and that haunting, haunting voice - that one note in particular being held and the singer leaning into it even more, hot damn — and then the ship destruction, where the intense blueness of it is almost as striking as the whiting out bit — and suddenly the camera quite literally drops us into a singular embodied POV, and rather than having isolated flashes we go straight from one action to another, and the camera is constantly moving even as the clips with people in them are constantly struggling. The shift from guns / bodies holding guns to the clip evoking the temple massacre where the focus is very much on the person who will be shot.

So good.

oh man, now I really want to see what you'd do for Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy. There's such evocative sense of place throughout this - space itself, and spaceships as the bodies that belong to space (vs. Breq's human body spiraling out, which viscerally does not belong to space and in immediate peril of dying of it); the planets, and the way green and swampy is shown as a plane or a satellite might see it vs. ice / snow world hits us at ground level as Breq and Seivarden struggle through it; and all the references to Radch culture - the glimpse of tea, the omen coins, the gloves - and to Breq (the statue! eeeee - also, given the text that comes immediately after, it comes across as 'the moral weather today is justice, and by justice I mean head whacking').

Which is to say, this is great and I really like it and I would love to hear more about all the stuff you learned in the course of your research for it. Thank you for making this, and for sharing it with us!

Edited (One 'HOLY SHIT' was insufficient.) Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 12:44 am (UTC)

Date: Aug. 18th, 2016 11:27 am (UTC)
jjhunter: Silhouetted watercolor tree against deep sky-strewn sky (poetree starlight)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
On rewatching (and er, rewatching and rewatching) - one minor amendment to the above. That box with the red cloth doesn't have omen coins in it; it appears, when I froze the frame and really looked it, to have a gun in it (the Presger gun? :D).

I'm always a little surprised on rewatching just how fast the clips go by - I get so much out of the choices you made, and the way they're instantly recognizable / evocative of particular moments or thematic elements of the book that they expand in my memory.

Also, switching back to the initial solo singer after the screen blacking / final definitive drumbeat is just exquisite, experience-wise. I like how it both brings us full circle back to space (and suggests that's what's going through Breq's head too) and also full contrast between the human body in space peril still lingering as an afterimage in our eyes (the glow and gone of the white uniform) and what we saw the last time we heard the singer, i.e. all the spaceships, and in particular one spaceship - Justice of Toren - blowing up (will Breq's final human body expire or explode like her spaceship body and all her other ancillaries did? STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT).

Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 03:38 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: irridescent raven against a background of autumnal maple leaves (world tree raven)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
You, Stulti, and [personal profile] thedeadparrot were such wonderful soundboards / partners in brainstorming re: figuring out key bits of Radchaai culture / philosophy / symbolism etc. I could incorporate into writing Radchaai-style poetry for last Yuletide; I'm thrilled you found anything of use in that for this project too. (I was not at all expecting to be included in the credits for this trailer; it really made my week.)

Aw, yessss - thank you for all these research links! *starts ordering books from the library and queuing up YouTube shorts to watch over the weekend* This is especially timely since I was just starting to think about what I might want to nominate for Yuletide this year - 'Pumzi' in particular looks like it hits a lot of my near future speculative fiction buttons.

That last VICE article reminds me of a fantastic essay by Rebecca Wanzo in Transformative Works & Cultures last year: African American acafandom and other strangers: New genealogies of fan studies. I highly, highly recommend checking it out if you haven't already.

Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 04:12 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Watercolor sketch of self-satisfied corvid winking with flaming phoenix feather in its beak (corvid with phoenix feather)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Ooooooo, ALL the riches! You spoil me. :D :D :D

Date: Sep. 15th, 2016 02:06 am (UTC)
jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Coming back to tell you I watched Pumzi earlier this week, and it was so good. Definitely requesting it for Yuletide!

Would also recommend every talk I've found online so far (all of two) by Pumzi's writer/director, Wanuri Kahiu:

Africa and science fiction: Wanuri Kahiu’s “Pumzi”, 2009 | Interview:

Afrofuturism in popular culture: Wanuri Kahiu at TEDxNairobi:

The sound quality on the latter is not as good, but if you click over to the YouTube page there's a good transcript to go with it. One of my favorite bits, from when she's talking more specifically about Pumzi near the end:
[12:15] In "Pumzi", what I did is I created this idea [...] about how we use different layers of technology in order to communicate and the thought process of that is that we're looking for more efficient ways of communicating rather than finding emotive ways of communicating.

Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 04:46 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Well, it does call to mind both the kinds of statues to the gods evoked by all those canonical references to divine icons in shrines / temples (and gives yet another iteration within your trailer of 'there ought to be lots of gods/icons/bodies/embodied aspects present, but instead of a crowd the multifacteted whole has been reduced / distilled to a single incarnation / aspect / motivation' — you could say that Breq's state of single-bodiness is mirrored in her single-mindedness) and, albeit inexactly, her Itran Tetrarchy icon as described in Ancillary Mercy:
Five opened the bench it was stored in and drew it out, a golden disk five centimeters in diameter and one and a half centimeters high. I took it from her and triggered it, and it opened out, the image rising from the center. The figure wore only short trousers and a wreath of tiny jeweled flowers. One of its four arms held a severed head that smiled serenely and dripped jeweled blood on the figure's bare feet. Two more hands held a knife, and a ball. The fourth hand was empty, the forearm encased in a cylindrical guard.
I rather like that there's a subtle implication afoot in the books that 'Justice of Toren' the ship+ancillaries, in becoming the single-bodiment 'Breq', has an icon of herself in the act of another key moment of enacting justice / system adjustment* as if she has become in her distilled single-minded focus some new embodied aspect of the universe, a force of nature in her own right.

Did I ever write up my theories about omen casting in Radchaai culture as consulting the moral weather (since the actual weather / environmental conditions would be controlled by Ship / Station / planetary satellite programming)? I think we talked about it at one point - or maybe I asked Ann Leckie at the Pandemonium Books event? - but I have a somewhat ridiculous backlog of meta bits I keep meaning to post publicly at some point, and watching and rewatching your fabulous trailer is making me excited to get back to it.

* I love the concept of haronniin, from Cherryh's Foreigner universe: "a system under stress, needing adjustment".
Edited Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 04:47 pm (UTC)

Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: profile of human J.J. with goggles and a band of gears running down her face; inked in reds and browns (steampunk J.J.)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
*several hours later*

To start, have an expanded writeup of meta re: enhanced counters game between Sphene and Translator Zeiat.
Edited (what are words I can't even) Date: Aug. 19th, 2016 08:54 pm (UTC)

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 12:52 am (UTC)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu
Whoah, that was amazing. AND Ann Leckie retweeted you!
Edited Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 12:52 am (UTC)

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 01:12 am (UTC)
yhlee: Drop Ships from Race for the Galaxy (RTFG)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
This is amazing. *_____*

My daughter also says she likes it, although she has not (yet) read the books. :p I will hand her the first one now!

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 06:22 am (UTC)
genarti: dark-skinned woman and dark background and lilies; words "I don't change just to suit your vision" ([misc] what if I do know who I am)
From: [personal profile] genarti
OH MY GOD. This is amazing -- compelling, coherent, and drop-dead gorgeously executed! Wow, wow, wow.

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 08:29 am (UTC)
potted_music: (Default)
From: [personal profile] potted_music
OMG, I never expected to hear Ukrainian folk music in the context of my favourite scifi reads, and this made me so very happy! *squees and flails*

This vid is awesome, I squeed at every new image (tea!!! gloves!!! the bridge!!!), I cannot even begin to imagine how much work went into putting it all together. And I'm adopting your Breq fancast as my headcanon.

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 02:43 pm (UTC)
deelaundry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deelaundry
Wonderful. The Breq 'actress' is perfect.

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 02:51 pm (UTC)
jb_slasher: text: you'll never crawl alone (ynca)
From: [personal profile] jb_slasher
Oh my word, SO MANY FEELS. This is amazing. I can has this movie? Also, I can has re-read of trilogy now. Oh wow, wow!

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
topaz_eyes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] topaz_eyes
I haven't read the book, but the vid is amazing. The music choices and video clips work beautifully together.

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 04:01 pm (UTC)
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
From: [personal profile] affreca
This is wonderful.

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 06:31 pm (UTC)
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] purplecat
Simply wonderful!

Date: Aug. 13th, 2016 07:02 pm (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
I just commented on AO3 but it needs to be said again and again. OMG this is good! I'm always of two minds about fully constructed reality when there is no source, but this vid is a prime examples of how it can be done and how utterly wonderful the results can be. THANK YOU!!!

Date: Aug. 14th, 2016 01:47 pm (UTC)
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (wanderer)
From: [personal profile] asakiyume
This is **amazing**. I loved the landscape you found for Ors, and I **loved** the music at the start--thank you so much for making this and documenting what went into it. You edited all the clips together smashingly!

Date: Aug. 15th, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (Default)
From: [personal profile] such_heights
This is SO COOL I LOVE IT. Beautifully put together and really easy to follow, oh man I wish this was a whole TV show. Also I was delighted by your use of the General from Doctor Who, that's perfect.

Date: Aug. 15th, 2016 01:39 am (UTC)
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] zulu
You did it! This is so amazing. I recognized some of the clips but it never got in the way of what you were showing--I've read the book so that helps. The way you cast Breq, so much YES. And the two figures on the snow--just. You found so many ways to use these disparate parts together, to reveal the book while concealing the source...I am so impressed.

Date: Aug. 15th, 2016 01:24 pm (UTC)
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (Default)
From: [personal profile] marginaliana
Wooooooooooooooooooooooow! This is amazing!

Date: Aug. 16th, 2016 04:30 am (UTC)
amalthia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amalthia
I loved your vid!

Date: Aug. 16th, 2016 08:46 pm (UTC)
stultiloquentia: Campbells condensed primordial soup (Default)
From: [personal profile] stultiloquentia
It was so cool to watch this fresh. It's incredibly compelling. Breq's face! And then when you see the other faces and recognize them, which is so astonishingly easy to do! You found so many uncannily perfect shots. The group of officers, the uprising in the square, the bridge.... I love it.

Date: Aug. 17th, 2016 05:39 am (UTC)
shati: TEDDY BEAR version of the queen seondeok group photo. (Default)
From: [personal profile] shati
This is gorgeous, and my interest is piqued. I have still not caught up on sleep so I am writing this sentence in deadly earnest: nice use of font. And color scheme. It's nice shades of s/f blue!

The music's really compelling/well-pieced together. I especially like the hitch in the moment of fading sound/light around :37.

Date: Aug. 17th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
From: [personal profile] happydork
I love it so much! I've just finished my re-read of Ancillary Justice, and this gorgeously augments my head canons. :)

Date: Aug. 18th, 2016 05:56 am (UTC)
elipie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elipie
Okay I finally got to sit down and watch this and WOW. So beautiful and well done. I can't believe this is not a trailer for an actual movie??

Date: Aug. 18th, 2016 02:30 pm (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (Default)
From: [personal profile] calvinahobbes
This gave me chills! I am so impressed with your version of the bridge, and the Kali statue was perfect. Cripes, now I want a movie! Eta: the gun in the box! That is just ridiculous! How did you FIND that?
Edited Date: Aug. 18th, 2016 02:32 pm (UTC)

Date: Jul. 31st, 2017 05:16 am (UTC)
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverflight8
This is fantastic. I absolutely love it. And I could see in every image a scene. Awesome job sourcing all the clips! Hats off, honestly.


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