Nina Paley's SITA SINGS THE BLUES — Jared Reinmuth , Nina Paley , Sita Sings The Blues — AAPEX

Saturday, December 26, 2009


One of the highlights of the 2009 Southern Appalachian International Film Festival was the Nina Paley film SITA SINGS THE BLUES. I had the pleasure of being on the screening team and now it turns out that one of the playwrights who is working with AAPEX, Jared Reinmuth, is cousins with the film maker.
The film is brilliant so check it out - and be on the lookout for Jared's adaption of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, by Afro-Franco novelist Alexandre Dumas.
Seems like we got a family with some talent in it here.
Scroll on down for Jared's email and background on the film.
Jaz Dorsey
The African American Playwrights Exchange
Nashville, Tennessee

Merry Christmas everyone. This amazing film, Sita Sings the Blues, is the work of my cousin, Nina Paley. It is brilliant -- as the NY Times review will attest. Some of you may have met Nina at our post-wedding party at Bourbon Street. Please see this film. You will not regret it! Hope everyone is having a joyous holiday season. Have a safe and happy new year. 2010 will be great! Hope to see you all soon. Peace.

Best wishes,
Jared & Saluda

Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

NYT Critics' Pick This movie has been designated a Critic's Pick by the film reviewers of The Times.
Sita Sings the Blues
Nina Paley
A scene from “Sita Sings the Blues,” directed by Nina Paley.
December 25, 2009

Legendary Breakups: Good (Animated) Women Done Wrong in India

Published: December 25, 2009
Animation is, at heart, the simplest form of cinema: a flutter of drawings fooling the eye into seeing motion. Nowadays, at least at feature length, the form tends to be a much bigger deal, with every year bringing can-you-top-this spectacles full of noisy, shiny figures and images.

“Sita Sings the Blues,” Nina Paley’s new film, which arrives in New York on Friday trailing festival love, is certainly ambitious and visually loaded. There are songs, bright colors and a story taken in part from one of the biggest, oldest epics in the world. But it is also modest, personal and, in spite of Ms. Paley’s use of digital vector graphic techniques, decidedly handmade. A Pixar or DreamWorks extravaganza typically concludes with a phone book’s worth of technical credits. Ms. Paley did everything in “Sita” — an amazingly eclectic, 82-minute tour de force — by herself.
Well, she didn’t sing the songs. Instead, she selected recordings from the early jazz singer Annette Hanshaw, whose voice, poised between heartbreak and soigné resignation, sets a mood of longing for this multilayered tale of love gone wrong. This music also provides an unlikely but seductive accompaniment to the main story, which comes from the Ramayana, an ancient and voluminous Indian epic.

Its hero is the blue-skinned Rama, avatar of the deity Vishnu, but Ms. Paley is more interested in Sita, his wife, whose devotion becomes both a romantic inspiration and a feminist cautionary tale. Her adventures are narrated by three shadow puppets who speak in the accents of modern Indian English and who quibble over details and interpretations.

Meanwhile, Sita, Rama and other characters from the Ramayana are rendered in various styles, including a “Betty Boop Goes Bollywood” look for the musical numbers and an illuminated-manuscript manner for the dramatic scenes.
All of this is entwined with the simpler, sadder, more drably drawn chronicle of a woman named Nina, whose longtime boyfriend, Dave, takes a job in India and eventually breaks her heart. This is a stripped-down, modernized variation on what happens to Sita, whose absolute love for Rama is repaid with suspicion, a humiliating trial by fire (to test her purity) and banishment. Hanshaw, crooning after inconstant or unkind lovers, completes the picture.
Not that “Sita Sings the Blues” will leave you wallowing in transhistorical, multicultural woe. On the contrary: Ms. Paley takes the pain in stride, and uses it as an occasion for whimsy and inventiveness. The movie’s playful spirit may represent a bit of defiant payback for whatever actual Dave may be out there; it shows that sometimes formal ingenuity can be the best revenge.

And 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.

Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Written, directed, animated and edited by Nina Paley; music sung by Annette Hanshaw; released by Gkids. At the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes. This film is not rated.

1 comment:

  1. 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!