Even if I didn’t know Nina Paley, the multi-talented creative force behind the animated feature film Sita Sings The Blues, I’d recommend it you.
Nina is a whipsmart animator-writer-director-designer-crusader, and her film is a beautiful hybrid, not only of animation styles, but also of cultures, eras, and genres. The promotional blurb will give you a taste of what you’re in for:
“Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by e-mail. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.”
And since you’re probably wondering what it looks like, behold:
The film has already been a part of more than fifty film festivals (including Tribeca, Avignon, Berlin, Athens, Taipei, Annency, and Seattle), and Nina is working to get it more widely distributed. Because of crazy-nutz copyright laws surrounding the Annette Hanshaw recordings (which would basically require her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to record labels–not even to the estates of Hanshaw or the various composers/lyricists of the tunes themselves), she is seeking out alternate distribution channels, which you can read about at Nina’s blog.
One of those channels is public television (like I needed another reason to love PBS), and tonight is the night!
I’m having some people over to watch it, but if you don’t know me (and you probably don’t), you can tune in, or set your DVR or VCR to New York City’s PBS station, thirteen, at 10:45 tonight, where it will be airing as the “indie” portion of their weekly “Reel 13” programming. If you don’t live in the NY market, never fear! The magic of the webnetz, and the wonderous power of not-for-profit broadcasting means that you can watch the entirety of Sita (82 minutes) online! Go here. It will also be archived in a high-res format online for future FREE! downloads at archive.org. (Really, free. As a result of all this legal wrangling just to get her work seen, Nina has become an anti-copyright-bullshit superhero. I suggest you watch and donate at her website so she can eat and work and feed her sweet kitty Bruno.)
If any one is interested in having a discussion about in sometime in the next week, let me know. I loooooooove the film (my dude and I have seen it evolve over a few years, and we think it’s just brilliant) and welcome the chance to talk it over with others, now that they’re finally getting the opportunity to see it. You wanna chat later this week? Let me know in comments!