I am so grateful I got to meet Roger Ebert in 2009, when he screened Sita Sings the Blues at Ebertfest. He couldn’t speak then, but he stood onstage while his computer’s synthetic voice read his comments and looked intently in my eyes to make sure I was taking it in. He really wanted me to receive his gift, which was hard because it was so generous.
Roger Ebert and Nina Paley at Eberfest 2009. Photo by Chris Anderson
Through this cinéma vérité documentary, you too can experience what it’s like to be a nobody on the red (actually blue) carpet, navigate ridiculous security theater, shake the hands of countless strangers, smile nervously, and above all, lose.
Featuring Nina Paley, Alistair Milne, Steven Beer, and dozens of celebrities and/or nobodies whose names I forget and whose permission I don’t have, so sue me. Camera: Nina Paley, with Steven Beer. Edited by Nina Paley in 2011.
I really want to visit your country in early to mid October. A festival in Sweden has invited me to speak around October 14-16, and would like to make a stopover before or after or both. I am greatly intrigued by Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative*. Might there be some way I could speak at a university there, or at least meet Icelanders involved with media reform and free speech issues?
*P.S. OK, not just the Modern Media Initiative. I’m also intrigued by your giant thermal pools.
Boy have I been remiss in posting news. First item: I spent last weekend in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, attending the Betty Boop Festival.
There I learned about the fascinating subculture of Betty Boop collectors. Betty was big in Japan in the 1930’s – I had no idea. I wish there were pictures of Japanese Betty collectibles online I could share with you, but there aren’t; maybe Betty collectors are all cagey due to the intense licensing restrictions that surround the character.
I also learned more about animation legend Grim Natwick, who grew up in Wisconsin Rapids before moving to LA and changing cultural history.
I’ll be in Europe until October 17 (on which date I will be speaking at MoMA!) so I may be virtually non-existent online. Or not, depending on how many free wireless connections are available and how well my netbook holds up.
Sita Sings the Blues is going to screen in Trivandrum, Kerala, at the 2nd International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.
Kairali Theatre on 20/06/09 at 6.15 pm
I couldn’t find an official web site, but there’s a blog about the festival here.
I was living in Trivandrum when I read my first Ramayana, and started drawing characters from it, which eventually became Sita Sings the Blues. I won’t be attending this festival, but I’m thrilled Sita will.
Anyway, it was great being back in Urbana, my hometown, where nerds are made as well as born. I was raised nerd, by nerds, and it’s only a fluke that I appear to be an artist; my heart belongs to nerd-dom. Want proof? Here I am visiting family friend, genius, and art-supporter Theo Gray at Wolfram Research:
My Free Culture activism is nerdy too, inspired as it is by the Free Software movement. Theo doesn’t like it, and made fiercely pro-copyright arguments as only a proprietary software nerd can.
I left my hometown of Urbana, IL, almost 21 years ago, with dreams of becoming a new age crystal-wielding hippie. I was 20 years old. Now I’m 40 (almost 41!) and will be returning with a feature film, for a film festival that didn’t exist when I was growing up. But first: the University of Chicago!
Who’da thunk back in 1988, that I’d be blogging about this in 2009? We couldn’t even imagine blogs back then.
M Jan 26 Griffith ( | Special Events— prelude to the 7pm screening! ‘Face to Face’ — A public dialogue about copyright, public domain, and filmmaking with public domain expert Jennifer Jenkins and independent filmmaker Nina Paley
(Nina Paley, 2008, 82 min, USA, in English, Color, 35mm) Director Nina Paley takes an innovative approach to the typical break-up story with this whimsically animated film. Based on RAMAYANA, SITA SINGS THE BLUES follows two broken relationships: Nina’s.– followed by a discussion/Q&A with director Nina Paley + Prof. Srinivas Aravamudan (Dept. of English)!
So there I was at the Dubai International Film Festival last week, and I forgot to bring my mobile phone charger. Usually my Blackberry’s battery conks out after less than 2 days, whether I make calls or not. But lo! That single charge lasted through the entire festival, and even worked when I got back to New York! 6 days of battery use on one charge. Blessed art Thou O Lord Our goD, King of the Universe! Happy Chanukah!
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.
Monday November 24: Panel Discussion The five nominees for this year’s Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You award gather for a panel discussion illustrated with film clips. Program 90 min. MoMA‘s Theater 3, mezzanine, Education & Research Center
More November screenings that I won’t be able to attend, but I hope you go if you’re in the area:
Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Int’l Film Festival, Nov 7
World Film Festival of Bangkok (Thailand), Oct 24-Nov 2
Winnipeg Animation Festival (MN, Canada), Oct 29-Nov 2
Festival voix d’Etoiles (France), Oct 30-Nov 2
Moscow Big Cartoons Festival (Russia), Nov 1-16
Leeds Int’l Film Festival (UK), Nov 4-16
Holland Animation Festival (The Netherlands), Nov 5-9
Asheville Film Festival (NC), Nov 6-9
Flip Animation Festival (UK), Nov 6-8
Olympia Film Festival (WA), Nov 14
Beyond Borders Film Festival, (MN), Nov 15
Check out the occasionally-updated full screening list here.