USA, 2008, 82 min
Direction: Nina Paley
Cast: Manish Acharya, Aseem Chhabra, Deepti Gupta, Sanjiv Jhaveri, Pooja Kumar, Bhavana Nagulapally, Debargo Sanyal, Reena Shah, Alladdin Ullah
Awards: Crystal Bear, Special Mention, in the category of Generation 14plus – best feature film, Berlinale, 2008.
The visitors of Cinema City Festival, within Animatrix Selection, are going to have a chance to see the debut animated film by American director Nina Paley, called Sita Sings the Blues which won Crystal Bear, Special Mention Award on this year’s Berlinale, in the category of Generation 14plus for the best feature film.
The film was created through an interesting adaptation of Ramayana – the classical epic of Indian literature. By introducing the elements of a contemporary love story into the legend, Paley originally uses the access to mythological dimensions of the ancient story about Rama and Sita, the heroes of the earliest Sanskrit epic.
Sita is a goddess of Hindu religion, a faithful wife who follows her husband Rama during a forty-day exile – a consequence of an heir-related conspiracy. Soon after, another tragedy occurs: Sita gets kidnapped by a demon. With help of the monkey king, a friend of gods, Rama manages to return his beloved one and to be crowned as the king. However, an unfounded doubt that questions his wife’s faithfulness comes to his mind. To prove her love and honesty, Sita decides to undergo some cruel tests. She returns to Rama unharmed, which is a divine evidence of her purity and righteousness.
Reading Ramayana, Nina Paley drew a parallel between her life and the life of the goddess Sita. Nina’s husband traveled to India in 2002, on a business trip, and then sent her an email telling her that he was breaking their marriage. The original junction of the two stories is made of three funny narrators, Indonesian marionettes that tell the ancient tragedy and modern comedy during the animated interpretation of cult Indian Ramayana.
Nina Paley was born in 1968 in Champaign, Il, USA. For years, she has been a member of the comic book association, and a founder of Fluff (Universal Press Syndicate), The Hots (King Features), as well as a weekly magazine called Nina’s Adventures. In 1998, she started making independent animated festival films of which a short film remained popular even today - The Stork. Sita Sings the Blues was created on her own, during a five-year continuous work on the computer in her home. She combined classical techniques of animation with modern 3D animations. The music draws a special attention – the unbelievable voice of Annette Hanshaw, a popular jazz vocal of the twenties.