In the ancient Sanskrit epic The Ramayana, Hindu goddess Sita is separated from, and then scorned by, her beloved husband Ram. In contemporary New York, Nina (filmmaker Nina Paley) receives an email from her husband, who has recently moved to India. Subject: DUMPSVILLE. Two women, separated by centuries, feel an irresistible urge to sing the blues — with the voice of 1920s jazz torch singer Annette Hanshaw. Before Sita Sings the Blues, the longest animated film Paley had made ran but four minutes; for five years after her break-up, she toiled on her home computer to craft this 82 minutes of dazzling animation. And there are more remarkable back-story twists to the tale: Sita may be the first animated feature released under a Creative Commons license, which permits free usage — a move necessitated by complicated copyright issues that arouse over its use of old songs Paley believed were in the public domain. For a time, these issues prevented from Sita from being screened at all. Ultimately, Paley had to borrow $50,000 to pay for music rights. We’re paying screening fees, by the way — some of which, we’re told, will be used for payments on the loan! “ To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle” (Roger Ebert). Colour, 35mm. 82 mins.
"The ingenuity of “Sita” — which evokes painting, collage, underground comic books, Mumbai musicals and “Yellow Submarine” (for starters) — is dazzling. Not busy, or overwhelming, or eye-popping. Just affecting, surprising and a lot of fun."New York Times | full review
"Paley's beguiling, consistently inventive visuals and sly yet melancholy tone are about as warm and winning as heartbreak-fueled empowerment gets."Village Voice | full review
"I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original."Chicago Sun-Times | full review