Asian Indians in Livingston in collaboration with the Livingston library will sponsor screening of “Sita sings the Blues” on September 6th at 6:00 p.m. in the Livingston Library, S. Livingston Avenue (near the High School).
Yep I’ll be there, along with the awesome and delectable Reena Shah, a Livingston native. This event was instigated by Anju Bhargava, who has written extensively on Sita:
Sita, more than any other character, is an integral part of the Indian woman’s psyche. At every stage of an Indian woman’s life, her name is invoked. Anju Bhargava found it amazing that one great epic written by a poet thousands of years ago has shaped and continues to shape and reshape the thinking of an entire culture. And, how certain aspects of a character have been emphasized more than others to suit the political and societal norms of the day. They have been understood or misunderstood to manage relationships through control and power. She has often wondered what the impact of Ramayan to the Indian culture would have been if it these characters had not been canonized. What if the popular cultural focus was not primarily on the Sita agni parikshay. What if the characters were understood as the flesh and blood characters that Valmiki was attempting to bring to life in his great poem! This reflection of Sita took her further along in her own quest of understanding Indian womanhood. In many respects she has come back full circle. She was ambivalent towards Sita, then rejected her, and now has come to accept her as an Indian cultural icon. She shares her understanding of Sita in her essay www.sitayanam.com .
This will be the first screening I attend equipped with the long-awaited “limited edition festival screener” DVDs, which of course I can’t legally sell, but I’ll have a box of ’em for all you “movie reviewers.” And of course you can legally donate to the artist, who is currently homeless, broke and in debt.
Bruno has joined a pride at Ken’s house. Background: Bruno. Foreground: Peanut. Not shown: Sweetpea. (I am not responsible for the latter two names)
I’m finally back in New York, staying in my friend Ken’s apartment, where my beloved and loyal cat Bruno is. It’s been a long, long trip around the world, on 12 separate flights, crammed into overcrowded economy cabins with “lap babies” and screamers, and all the Ambien in the world couldn’t make air travel more bearable. Happier stories and photos of the festivals themselves to come. For now, I’m just glad to be “home.”
My internet access on the road was spotty, so if you’ve been trying to reach me the last month, please try again now. I’ll be here until September 14, when I fly to Israel. More on that soon.
Okay, here’s a picture of Sweetpea after all.
International air travel sucks butt (how many “lap babies” can they pack on one 16-hour long-haul?) but the festivals themselves sure are nice once you get there. Durban was warm and had lively audiences. I saw some good films and was put up in a very nice hotel, which I seldom left due to warnings about rampant street crime. DIFF also gave me an unusually beautiful festival bag, made of intricately printed African fabric.
3 flights and about 20 hours later I arrived in beautiful Melbourne without my checked suitcase, which vanished somewhere between Johannesburg and Perth. The Melbourne International Film Festival then sponsored a whirlwind shopping spree at Target 45 minutes before closing, where I scored some underwear, pants and a bra, and learned Australian clothing sizes don’t correspond to American. The lovely and talented actress Arta Dobroshi got word of my plight and lent me some of her movie star duds, including a hot strapless number I don’t want to return. The city of Melbourne is handsome indeed, reminiscent of San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, but you do need to wear clothes there – it’s cold, and it’s the law. The MIFF audiences were TEH AWESOMEST!!1! – “Sita” played simultaneously in two full houses, and the post-screening discussion was a lot of fun.
Then I flew to Brisbane, where I am now. I like Australia. Gone are the adventurous exotica-seeking days of my youth – give me that familiar Western decadence. Australia is like the US, but less populated and prettier and seemingly more functional, unless you’re an Aboriginal, in which case neither country is particularly lovable. But I am a product of the Decadent West, and after 2 days on godawful airliners I really appreciate returning to a familiar culture. Except it’s on the other side of the World. Uncanny, that. Tonight a BIFF volunteer named all 5 boroughs of New York, proving we are truly one people.
Tomorrow “Sita” screens to a bunch of school kids. I am looking forward to it. Now that the film has proven itself as a cartoon for adults, kids’ screenings just broaden the audience, instead of pigeonholing it as I’d first feared.
Next Week: Jecheon, Korea!