Your Children Are Not Your Children

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Khalil Gibran, from The Prophet

Likewise, your Art is not your Art. It too belongs to Life.

Copyright terms were initially 14 years – about the time it took to raise a child to adulthood. After 14 years (or 18 years now, we’ve extended legal infancy) parents really have to let go of their children, and acknowledge they don’t “own” them. In fact they never did.

So it is with Art. An artist nurtures a work from an invisible little idea into a form that can stand on its own. But eventually they have to let go of it. Letting go is essential for the growth of both the “child” and the “parent.” Parents who don’t let go of their children never mature; children who are never released wilt. 14 years is a long time to “own” a child…50 years is ridiculous. Imagine changing your kid’s diaper for 50 years! And life plus 70 years is simply obscene. Would you want your kid beholden to your rotting corpse? Would you rather it belong to your corpse than to Life?

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Roger Ebert is my Homeboy

We’re both from Urbana, IL, where I grew up watching At The Movies on WILL TV. And now, he gives a thumbs-up to Sita:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/having_wonderful_time_wish_you.html 

TOGETHER WE WIN

w00t!

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A sweeeet letter

Dear Ms. Paley,

I had the pleasure of watching a showing of “Sita Sings the Blues” at the Denver Film Festival this past weekend.  I was thrilled by the insightful, witty, and often times hilarious telling of Sita’s story.

I am a first generation Indian woman, and I was equal parts intrigued and wary about “Sita Sings the Blues” when I first heard about it.  I was intrigued because Sita’s part in the Ramayana has always bothered me and I was curious to see how her story would be told from a modern feminist perspective.  I was wary because, as an Indian-American, I have seen aspects of the Indian culture mutated and exploited in ways that are, frankly, offensive.  “Sita Sings the Blues” exceeded all of my expectations and I came away from the showing very satisfied.

My personal favorite part of the feature was the commentary about the Ramayana by the three puppets.  I felt a strange sense of deja vu, as I am certain I have had many of the conversations before with my parents and siblings.  From the apparent incongruity of Sita throwing jewels when she was supposedly in her Sanyasi clothing, to ruminating on exactly what happened when and what is the pronunciation for that demon’s name!

Every part of the story spoke to me.  It was apparent that you had extensively researched the Ramayana in the making of this film.  Thank you for giving Sita her much needed voice to sing the blues.

I have to admit, the only part of the movie experience that was annoying to me was trying to articulate to my friends the reasons why I enjoyed the film so much.   The experience was visceral for me, and it almost defies an intellectual, oral explanation.

I was saddened to hear that this film would not be released for widespread circulation or for DVD release.  This is a story that I would have liked to share with my family and friends and make a part of my lexicon of Hindu mythology.

If there is anything that I can do to enable this film to be widely circulated, please let me know.  I would be more than happy to write letters, start petitions, etc.  I don’t know enough about the film industry to intuit what needs to be done, but I’ll take whatever suggestions you care to give.

Again, a big, capital THANK YOU for making this film.  It is brilliant. 

 –Sima Patel
(blogged here with permission)

Marquee de Me

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IFC Film Center, New York, Sunday Nov. 9, 2008. Photo by Ken Levis.

Publicity Bitch sez: Awards!

It doesn’t come off as humble, but my alter-ego Publicity Bitch has some exciting awards news about Sita Sings the Blues.

First, from the the 37th Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal:

the prestigious Z Télé Grand Prize – prestigious because it is voted upon by those who actually buy tickets to films in the festival – went to Sita Sings the Blues, Nina Paley’s riotous animated musical appropriation of the Indian lit classic, Ramayana, billed as “the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.” (link)

Thank you, Montreal!

Second, today IFP announced its nominees for the 2008 Gotham Awards:

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™

Afterschool
Antonio Campos, director; Josh Mond, Sean Durkin, producers
Meadowlark
Taylor Greeson, producer/director
The New Year Parade
Tom Quinn, director; Steve Beal, Tom Quinn, producers
Sita Sings the Blues
Nina Paley, producer/director
Wellness
Jake Mahaffy, director; Jake Mahaffy, Jeff Clark, producers

Thanks, IFP!

And as always, big thanks to you friends, supporters, and viewers for helping my little film make its way in the world.

Best Script in Athens!

Sita Sings the Blues won Best Script at the Athens International Film Festival. It’s an honor I credit to Sita’s talented collaborators, especially Manish Acharya, Aseem Chhabra and Bhavana Nagulapally, who improvised all the narration.

Sita also received an Honorable Mention for “Best Animated Feature Film” at the Ottawa Animation Festival.

So the film is in excellent health, even while I am a quivering wreck.

Here’s What They’re Saying About “Sita Sings the Blues”!

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השנה, לצד הרחבת הפסטיבל מארבעה ימי פעילות לשבוע, הוחלט להרחיב גם את מתחם הפסטיבל ולקיים אירועים בכל רחבי העיר. בין אירועי הדגל תיערך הקרנה חגיגית במבנה היקב הישן של הסרט “Sita Sings The Blues”, סרט אנימציה אינדי של נינה פיילי ששואב מהמיתולוגיה ההודית. הסרט, שהוקרן בבכורה בפסטיבל ברלין, יוקרן ברחובות סביב שולחנות בתוך היקב.

Anyone know what the heck that means? I sure don’t. Also:

인도의 왕비 시타는 그녀의 사랑하는 군주이자 남편인 라마와 별거의 삶을 살았던 여인이다. 한편, 애니메이터인 니나의 남편은 일 때문에 인도로 이주한 후 곧 그녀 …

Thanks, Google News!

The Annecy and the Ecstasy

Holy shit

Press for Success

Another round of articles about Sita Sings the Blues:

“imaginative, giddily witty, visually delicious”
Seattle Weekly (Editor’s Pick)

Animating a Personal Flash Epic: The Making of Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues
a long, detailed, and honest (maybe too honest) interview with Bryant Frazer for Film&Video

Gods, Princes and Demons
New Statesman article by Salil Tripathi about the British Library’s Ramayana exhibit, including a paragraph on Sita

Nina Paley’s Path to “Sita Sings the Blues”
a long article by Ed Liu for ToonZone

Whining Advisory Next 600 Words

I got back from Stuttgart, still coughing (albeit less), and slept for about 2 days. Now I’m slogging through my backed-up emails and figuring out what to do next. I looks like I’ll be touring the Eastern Hemisphere most of June and July, and sub-letting my Hell’s Kitchen apartment. Interested parties please get in touch – the apartment comes with my cat Bruno, who needs daily food and love.

You’d think I’d be all overjoyed about this, but actually I’m stressed and confused. Will Sita get a distribution deal? Will it win an award? Awards drive me crazy – I always want one, “for the sake of the film,” I tell myself, but surely it’s for my ego. Press too is like coke, I always want more; google blogsearch is becoming a compulsion. I compare Sita‘s progress with other films, which can’t be good. I’d like to detach from all this, but what about the festivals? This is my big chance to attend film festivals, it’s not like I can postpone them all until next year. But film festivals are orgies of comparison: who’s getting the most press? the best reviews? whose shows are selling out first? who’s getting the award? These are enemies of the Muse, and I’m not sufficiently mature to maintain my equilibrium in their midst.

Also, I am out of money and racking up expenses like you wouldn’t believe. Take “film festival rights”: publishers charge at least $500 a song just to play the film at festivals – and I don’t get money at festivals, I spend money to make the prints and stuff. I’m spending money I don’t have to get the film out there, and although something always works out, I have no idea how I’m going to pay for French subtitles (the “honor” of attending the Annecy Animation Festival is costing me over $5,000), or legal fees, or rent. Someday the film could bring money in, but I’m not sure how I’m going to make it to that day, if it ever comes.

What a whiney post this has turned out to be. On the brighter side, I’ll post next about all the sweeet reviews Sita got at Tribeca, with tasty little quotes selected by Publicity Bitch herself. But I am not Publicity Bitch. I am a servant of the Muse who is losing her way.

“a tiny slice of the world”

Apparently an American distributor rejected Sita Sings the Blues because, culturally, “it only relates to a tiny slice of the world.”

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Wired!

w00t!

Morning Edition

header_logo.gif You gotta get up pretty early in the morning to hear Sita Sings the Blues mentioned on the radio. That’s what will supposedly happen on WNYC tomorrow (Tuesday April 22) around 6:30ish (FM) and 8:30ish (AM), during Morning Edition. I think it’s local only, but you can hear it online (hour 2, about mid-way through). That’s what I’m gonna do, since I plan to be asleep when it airs live. (Big ups to Publicity Bitch, whose work seems to be paying off.)

I Can Haz Publicity?

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Since I can’t afford a publicist for Sita, I’m doing my own. Yes, it’s a full-time job. No, it doesn’t suit my character. Yes, I have created an alter-ego to handle this, a new sub-personality I call “Publicity Bitch.” She is shameless and aggressive and refers to me in the third person. She writes my press releases. If you’re a journalist, Publicity Bitch kindly requests you get in touch: press at sitasingstheblues dot com.

Fortunately, some press has come to me unasked, notably a new NBC documentary/reality show called My First Time. The first episode follows me and 2 other first-time feature filmmakers as we get ready for our Tribeca premieres. It will air in New York on Saturday May 3 at 7pm on WNBC; if that goes well, NBC will broadcast it nationally. Above are photos (click to enlarge) of producer/director/cameraman Jesse Zook Mann shooting yours truly here at Nina Paley Media Empire HQ.