Back from Nerd Central

And crazy busy. Chicago and Urbana and Ebertfest were great, amazing, beyond my ability to emotionally comprehend, I’ve never had a week like that before. Then to top it off, Sita won Best Narrative Feature at the Indian Film festival of Los Angeles, and moved to #1 on Critical Consensus. That’s just nuts.

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:ninatheo.jpg
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.

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For contrast, here’s a picture of me with Richard Stallman in New York:
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Whose side am I on, anyway? The side of NERDS!

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Duke University tonight – January 26

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M Jan 26 Griffith ( 6pm-6:45pm) | 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

M Jan 26  Griffith ( 7pm ) | FVD Showcase (screening & discussion)
Sita Sings the Blues
 (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)!

Win a Dream* Date with Nina(tm)

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above: at a different glamorous, star-studded award thing

I’ve been nominated for a Spirit Award, and I’m auctioning off a DREAM* DATE allowing the lucky winner to attend the glamorous**, star-studded*** Spirit Awards with me. Bidding closes Jan-29-09 19:42:45 PST.

Date: February 21, 2009
Arrivals: 11:30am
Lunch: 12:30 pm
Ceremony: 2:00pm-4:00pm

Location: Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles

Age, race, caste, gender, orientation, marital status no bar. Getting in usually costs at least $2,500 per person.
This is part of a fundraising drive to get my award-winning feature film, Sita Sings the Blues, out of copyright jail.

The lucky winner will get to prance down the Red Carpet with me (photographers! paparazzi! none of whom will know who the hell we are because they all want photos of movie stars), eat whatever they serve for lunch, drink the booze that inevitably flows freely and at film events (I personally don’t drink, so if you’re sober at least you’ll have me to talk to), clap politely, and listen to me yak on and on about copyright reform and freedom of speech. Optional: pick me up from my friends’ house in Glendale (because I don’t drive – I’m a New Yorker!) and enjoy VIP valet parking!

Also you’ll get the satisfaction of supporting Free Speech.

BID HERE! You have until January 29.

*asexual dreams only
**ugh
***the joint’s gonna be crawling with celebrities

My Chanukah Miracle

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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!

November Sita screenings

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We have a whole mess o’ festival screenings coming up in November. The ones I will actually be at, in person:

NEW YORK, Nov 8 and 9:

Saturday, Nov. 8, 11:00 am
Sunday, Nov. 9, 11:00 am
IFC Center (323 6th Ave @W 4th St., Greenwich Village)

These matinee screenings are part of the New York Children’s Film Festival. (Sita isn’t exactly a kid’s movie, but it plays very well to older kids and teens and their parents)

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 13:

Nov. 13: 7:00 pm and 9:15 pm with a reception in between.
Opening the San Francisco International Animation Festival
Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema (Battery @ Clay st, downtown SF)

NEW YORK again:

Thursday Nov. 20, 6:00 pm
Saturday Nov. 22, 3:00 pm

MoMA (11 W. 53 Street, between 5th & 6th aves)
In the Film exhibition Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You (Gotham Award nominees)

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.

I Be Illin’

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OK, so I’m not in Athens right now. I left Israel early. I got sick, is what happened. A little food poisoning, a little irritable bowel syndrome, a little appetite loss and not eating for days, a little nervous breakdown, and next thing you know I’m back in New York trying to recover in a friend’s apartment, because I lost mine to bed bugs in July – not that that could be contributing to my stress or anything.

IBS

Unfortunately airports and airplanes and trying to sleep in different time zones are kind of killing me, so I’m canceling personal appearances for the next few weeks. It is a serious bummer, because I love meeting audiences and doing Q and A’s; and also because some of my upcoming lecture gigs actually pay, and I need the money. But my body and brain apparently can’t take this much travel, and I’m really sick.

On a bright note, the Rehovot International Women’s Film Festival was amazing – really excellent films, and excellent women. I also met some wonderful animators from ASIFA-Israel.

Where in the World is Sita Sings the Blues?

Please check the ever-growing show list. Sorry it’s not better organized; you have to scroll down in chronological order from past to future. It’s just me and my Momz trying to keep track here.

I’m leaving on Sunday for these two:

Sita and I will be bopping around other parts of Israel too, according to the US State Department (!), who is sponsoring my trip (how that was arranged I do not know). I’ll be in Athens Sept. 25-29. Whee!

Home is where the Cat is

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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.

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Okay, here’s a picture of Sweetpea after all. 

Greetings from the Other Side of the World!

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!

Baby’s Got a Brand New Passport

My new, hopefully post-bed bug life coincides with my new passport, which I just got today. A clean slate! I feel so fresh, like a newborn 40-year-old.

I need the extra visa pages for my upcoming festival tour, which includes:

Durban International Film Festival
July 23 – August 3
Durban, South Africa

Melbourne International Film Festival
July 25 – August 10
Melbourne, Australia

Brisbane International Film Festival
July 31 – August 10
Brisbane, Australia

Jecheon International Music and Film Festival
August 9 – 14
Jecheon, Korea

Who needs an apartment when you’ve got airplanes and hotels? And who needs money when there are party snacks and meal vouchers? See you on the other side of the World!

Meanwhile, if you’re in New York, Sita will screen at the

Long Island Film and Wine Festival
July 31 – August 3
Martha Clara Vineyards, Long Island, New York

Obviously I won’t be there, but a bunch of NY Sita collaborators will! Come see the movie and say hi to them.

I’m back!

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Now I get to enjoy two glorious weeks in my favorite city in the World. Sita did very well in Europe, especially France – in addition to the Annecy prize, she won “Best American Feature” at Avignon. All of which takes some of the sting out of returning to a lost potential romance, a friend’s descent into alcoholism, and a bedbug infestation in my building (the exterminators come Friday). Still, I am overjoyed to be reunited with my beloved cat Bruno, and walk and bicycle in the city I love, bedbugs and all.

Here are some pictures of Novi Sad, Serbia, I took while attending the Cinema City film festival.

Sita in Paris (Centre Pompidou) Sunday June 29

“Enfin, Sita sings the blues, Cristal du long-métrage, sera diffusé dimanche à 14h30.”

On DVD, because the French print and I are still in Avignon.

I miss my cat!

Truly, missing my cat is the biggest downside to all this traveling. They just don’t make ’em as fat and cuddly as Bruno, here in Europe.

Other than that, I can’t complain. Today I’m off to Avignon.

Greetings from Novi Sad

I’m currently at a VERY well-organized film festival in Serbia. They picked me up at the airport, assigned me my own handler, put me in a top hotel, gave me a detailed personal schedule, fed me, got me a local SIM card for my cell phone, drove me everywhere on time…and this is their first year! It’s organized by the same people who’ve done a music festival in Novi Sad for 8 years in a row, and their experience handling complex logistics and tempermental egomaniacal artists shows. Sita had two well-attended outdoor screenings. Now I get to relax and sight-see until I return to Geneva Sunday. 

Thanks everyone who sent kind words about the Annecy win. I still can hardly believe it. What a strange world! I love you all.

The Annecy and the Ecstasy

Holy shit