Sita Sings for her Supper

Graduating with an animation diploma can be daunting during a global financial crisis. Souls are being sold left, right and centre for an opportunity to find a pencilhold in the animation industry. Nina Paley, whose film "Sita Sings the Blues" is becoming more notorious and famous by the second, has grasped creativity by the horns in many ways to find success in marketing her art and philosophy for "free". Possibly that would read better untruncated?; for "freedom of expression". Maybe there is some inspiration in this tale for recent graduates? No need to sing the blues. Watch the film, it's free. Or is it?


Anonymous said...

Bring Sita home with a DVD of

Buy on Amazon:
Rent on Netflix:

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 email. 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."

Need another reason why? Check out Roger Eberts Review!

Anonymous said...

So gorgeous, SO funny.This is art, taking your experiences, absorbing the culture that is directly influencing you at this point in time and processing your emotions and experiences in a fabulous way in the dialect of your felt experience. It's a brave and honest creation, that's what happens when you surpass the earthly trials like Sita, and get back to the creative belly! I've been reading about Indian feature productions lately, and other Asia Pacific Rim companies producing cultural content for the home audience. So this is a western interpretation not an appropriation, and I like it because it introduces the characters in a memorable way. It seems to be Nina's message to honour the culture that robbed her of her husband and she chooses to love not hate that culture(albeit with a wry, intelligent eye) hence her identification with Sita. She's not mocking, she's making a choice not to be robbed of any cultural riches just because she has suffered...she doesn't just lie down and die she goes deeper into the culture and trys to understand...The Ramayana from her readings, describes cycles of change , trials, death and rebirth. Right now India is rapidly becoming not only a huge co-partner/ outsourcing resource it is also producing it's own features for the Indian home Market (and hopefully the world). Like the highly successful "Hanuman" (UTV,2005) and "The Ramayana" (Maya Entertainment, 2010)(Trailers are both on Youtube). India has thousands of years of cultural capital such as the characters of the Hindu Ramayana. As there are issues with appropriating aspects of any culture and gaining a buck from it, I can see why Nina chose to go the Creative Commons path to share her animation as an honorable tribute to the way culture is shared, freely through story.
In fact this animation is a love-song to the archetypal characters that endure through story and reflect our common human experience, and simultaneously a lovesong to "story" and how it can heal and change us. Blows you away doesn't it!Stories are really powerful.I just watched it so sorry about the length of this but these are my immediate thoughts.Thanks for posting this link , Frank. Gives me another creative angle to ponder.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I want to make a correction:
"Hanuman" was made by Sahara One Motion Pictures, and the animation "Arjun" was made by UTV
Toonz, India. "Ramayana, The Epic"
was made by Maya Entertainment as was said. "Arjun" looks particularly awesome as well, a mix of 2D and 3D. Arjun is a famous Indian Prince and archer.

Frank said...

Thanks for your comments Michelle.

I liked the interview style of the 3 shadow puppet characters that told the story in their interpretation complete with corrections and debate.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was the glue wasn't it and an awesome reference to the origins of animation. For me it was great, enlightening, kind of an entertaining: "The Ramayana for Idiots". I love the songs too, kind of took the awkwardness out of being dumped by making a bit of a joke about "Lovin" yet I think Sita comes out looking best/ the least compromised character.Can you see other animators taking Nina Paley's lead and doing the same, ie putting your full feature into the Creative Commons? It has certainly opened my eyes, I can see how this accomplished animator was trying to put her experiences back into the cultural conversation ie sharing her experiences in an amazing way.

Kristi said...

I love this film, but I was under the impression that she put it on creative commons due to music copyright issues and nothing else. Not because she didn't want to earn money from it, and not due to cultural sensitivity. (I just love the way Westerners are apparently not allowed to even be inspired by anyone else's ideas, although the rest of the world helps itself to Western art history by the barrel load. Certainly Nina has gotten flak for being "racist", ie. retelling the Ramayana while being white.)

Frank said...

I'm pretty sure that Nina Paley wanted some remuneration for her animation work.

She did note in an interview that part of the reason for presenting the film under a creative commons licence stemmed from her frustrations at organising the rights to the circa 1929 blues songs.

Then, I understand, it became part of the action for change, or possibly the action to explore change.

I like that she is challenging the systems for artsploitation and exploring ideas of the generosity of people.

I think she does it from the strength of a well crafted animation narrative.