Sita Sings the Blues

Nina Paley’s feature-length animated labour of love is an inspiring and mystical journey through Indian legend and through her life. Nina chose to distribute the film through a Creative-Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, which means that she has given the film to the world as a gift. In her own words, she states:

“You don’t need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom.”

Not only is this a radical, even revolutionary, approach to the distribution of a creative piece of work, but the film itself is gorgeous and deep; a musical, animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic the Ramayana. As Nina describes it:

“The aspect of the story that I focus on is the relationship between Sita and Rama, who are gods incarnated as human beings, and even they can’t make their marriage work.

And then there’s my story. I’m just an ordinary human, who also can’t make her marriage work. And the way that it fails is uncannily similar to the way Rama and Sita’s [relationship fails]. Inexplicable yet so familiar. And the question that I asked and the question people still ask is, “Why”? Why did Rama reject Sita? Why did my husband reject me? We don’t know why, and we didn’t know 3,000 years ago. I like that there’s really no way to answer the question, that you have to accept that this is something that happens to a lot of humans.”

We applaud Nina’s talent and her bravery. To see the film or buy the DVD, visit the Sita Sings the Blues website.

SCREENED AT: The Aeon Festival, August 2010