Friday, May 2, 2008

Happenings: Tribeca Film Festival - Part 2

I watched my second film at the Tribeca Film Festival today--"Sita Sings the Blues." A gorgeous, smart, layered, romantic, tragic, funny modern animated version of the Indian legend of Rama and Sita and their complicated romance (at least from Sita's POV).

The filmmaker, Nina Paley, is one of those humble artistic geniuses that you love and envy all at once. She's a one woman production team, and it took her 5 years to do this film with multiple animation styles from comic strip to Mughal art to cut out animation to shadow puppetry. When Sita "sings" the blues, we are actually hearing little-known blues singer Annette Henshaw's 1920's recordings. The music is just lovely and I wish I could buy the soundtrack. Hell, I wish I could buy the entire movie.

It was a Friday matinée and much more crowded than yesterday when the theater was half filled with elderly couples, elderly mothers with their film geek sons, and loners with their backpacks. Today's film was shown in a much larger theater and filled almost seat for seat with a great cross-section of people (Indians were well-represented, of course) at 3 pm.

Nina Paley and her cast and crew graciously answered questions afterwards. "The Internet's been good to me," she said at one point. Paley helped fund the project from anonymous donations from people who read her blog.The film does not yet have distribution, and apparently people always ask Nina if she plans to show the movie in India, but it's a tricky thing b/c Hindu's might be offended by the portrayal of the god Rama.

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