16 July 2009

The Ramayana blues, and other adventures in film

I was disappointed to miss the run of the movie Sita Sings the Blues when it was at the local film society. Then this week I ran across the film website and a pleasant surprise: The film, packaged under a Creative Commons license, is free to download in high quality (up to 1080p HD!).

Nina Paley, the mastermind of this engaging animated feature film, says "There is the question of how I'll get money from all this. My personal experience confirms audiences are generous and want to support artists. Surely there's a way for this to happen without centrally controlling every transaction. The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing. New models are emerging, and I'm happy to be part of that. But we're still making this up as we go along. You are free to make money with the free content of Sita Sings the Blues, and you are free to share money with me. People have been making money in free software for years; it's time for free culture to follow. I look forward to your innovations."

The unusual release scheme aside, it's a fascinating film, with three different styles of animation telling three different parts of the story: an autobiographical tale of romantic woe; a trio of Indians trying to recall the details of the Ramayana; and wonderfully crafted musical numbers in which Sita animates old 1920s songs sung by Annette Hanshaw.

An important consideration for anyone who follows an Indian spiritual tradition is that the film's approach to the Ramayana tale is more personal and cultural than religious, with an overemphasis on how Rama did Sita wrong, and many elements left out of the story. It's the story of a heartbroken woman, and how she found solace in the story of a more famous revered heartbroken woman. At least we think she found some solace; the abrupt ending does leave some doubts. But have a look; heck, it's free (though donations are welcome). And the dancing cows are priceless.

I've also been meaning to tell you about the great online offerings at Link TV. I don't have a dish, so I can't watch most of their stuff. But the website has a number of fascinating videos, including the series Global Spirit and more than 20 interviews and music videos supporting global human rights, from the likes of Lila Downs, Michael Franti, Angelique Kidjo, and K'naan. If you're like me, you'll be adding Link TV to your favorites forthwith! Click below for the K'naan video, to start:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

FilmKaravan cordially invites you to celebrate the DVD Release of the critically acclaimed and festival-favorite film, SITA SINGS THE BLUES. Rent it now on Netflix or buy on Amazon (Available 28). Also presenting for the first time, an exhibition of the original artwork that Nina created to then develop the animation for this amazing film. The show will be curated by Priyanka Matthew.

When: Tuesday, July 28, 6:30-8:30 PM
Where: Interieurs | 151 Franklin Street between Hudson & Varick
Entry Fee: $15* Cash/Check @ door (all proceeds go towards the SSB distribution campaign)
*Includes OPEN BAR, Kebabs and a free SSB DVD ($19.99 value)

RSVP to info@filmkaravan.com by Friday July 24, 2009

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." Played over 200 Film Festivals and winner of over 15 awards including Gotham awards, Berlinale, Annecy, Athens and more.

Read what the New York Times has to say about the film (http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=104321487725&h=jpHWc&u=0xs2o&ref=mf) or watch the trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4wAA2eVXjo). More information at www.sitasingstheblues.com.

SPREAD THE WORD! FilmKaravan is launching an independent, grass roots distribution effort for SITA and we need your help to make sure this little film makes it big. Please contact info@filmmkaravan.com with suggestions on how you can help (banner ads on your sites, newsletter links, host events or screenings in your city, promote DVD sales in you store, etc.). Here are some other ways to help easily.

NOT YET SEEN IT? Queue it on Netflix or pre-order on Amazon
SEEN IT? Post your review and rating on Amazon & Netflix and help this little film make a big impact!!
And if you LOVED IT? Tell you friends by donating your Facebook status to SSB or by forwarding this email to them.