India has been getting some major cinematic attention the last few years. With the recent Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire, Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, and now the Ebertfest showing of Sita Sings the Blues, the culture rich country is doing well for itself on the big screen.
Before the showing of Sita Sings the Blues, Chaz Ebert came out and thanked all the volunteers, especially those who have come back year after year. She also thanked the projection staff at Virginia, calling it some of the best projection in the land.
As for the film, Chaz admitted to never seeing it, but she knew Roger got extremely invested in it after his first viewing of it.
“Today we celebrate the sheer beauty and creativity of it,” said Chaz. And was she ever right, this movie is incredible.
When Roger came out with his Macbook to introduce the film he stressed the fact that this amazing movie was entirely created by one person, Nina Paley. Paley, who joined Ebert on stage, created the entire animated movie by herself on her home computer. This made the production cost relatively low, but as Ebert put it: “This doesn’t put a cost on her time, her originality, her creativity. Those are priceless.”
Sita Sings the Blues is an animated interpretation of the Indian myth of Ramayana intertwined with the personal story of Paley herself. The title comes from musical interludes throughout the film where tracks by the legendary Annette Hanshaw are used to describes Sita’s plight. The film was unlike anything I have ever seen, which I found myself saying a lot during this Festival. It was funny, charming, heartwarming, and I recommend that everyone watch it on www.sitasingstheblues.com.
After the film Paley came on stage to discuss the unorthodox distribution of the film and her opinions on the copyright system. The biggest problem she faced with this movie is getting the rights to use all of the Annette Henshaw songs.
“What copyright law has become is not serving culture,” Paley described. “These beautiful songs…many people haven’t heard these songs until the film, and that is a crime.”
Paley explained how this film does not belong to her, but to all of us, her audience. If you want to download it off her website and have a screening, go for it. If you want to edit it different and change the subtitles, go for it.
“The more people share the film, the more valuable it is,” said Paley.
As for changing the subtitles around, Paley mentioned that someone made a lolcat version of the movie called Sita Can Haz Bluez Excuse me while I go and try to find a copy.