Sita Still Sings the Blues
I had a great weekend with my little boy, going to Tombstone, His Grandparents, His Auntie Kim’s to celebrate my Nephew’s birthday, watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Veggie Tales and chasing him around laughing hysterically until he puked. I mean really Puked! With all this fun, I really didn’t have anytime to work on my puppet, so I’m feeling very guilty and a little blue. With that said, One of my favorite animated films in recent history is Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. The style is fun and the story telling is so funny, different and interesting, I really think this movie deserves so much more. However, the story behind the film is just as interesting, and a learning lesson for all animators. Here’s some Wikipedia snippets:
Sita Sings the Blues is a 2008 animated film written, directed, produced and animated entirely by American artist Nina Paley (with the exception of some fight animation by Jake Friedman in the “Battle of Lanka” scene), primarily using 2D computer graphics and Flash Animation.
It intersperses events from the Ramayana, light-hearted but knowledgeable discussion of historical background by a trio of Indian shadow puppets, musical interludes voiced with tracks by Annette Hanshaw and scenes from the artist’s own life. The ancient mythological and modern biographical plot are parallel tales, sharing numerous themes.
And the troubles the movie had to go through …
The film uses a number of 1920s Annette Hanshaw recordings. Although the filmmaker initially made sure these recordings were not covered by US copyright law, a number of other copyright issues surfaced, including state laws prior to US federal copyright law on recordings, rights to the compositions and the right to synchronize the recordings with images. These recordings were protected by state commerce and business laws passed at the time in the absence of applicable federal laws and were never truly “public domain”. In addition, the musical composition itself, including aspects such as the lyrics to the songs, the musical notation, and products derived from using those things, is still under copyright.
Without a distributor, Nina Paley was unable to pay the approximately $220,000 that the copyright holders originally demanded. Eventually, a fee of $50,000 was negotiated. Paley took out a loan to license the music in early 2009.
In July 2011, Nina Paley made a protest video regarding the film’s deletion from YouTube in Germany due to what she regards as fraudulent take-down notice under the aegis of GEMA, Germany’s major performance rights or music collection organization, but which may be an instance of a larger on-going conflict regarding copyright and royalties between YouTube and GEMA.
On January 18, 2013, Paley announced that she has changed the Creative Commons license for the film from “CC-BY-SA” (the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-alike 3.0 Unported license) to “CC-0” (public domain); she made the ownership rights change in response to the continual red tape of rights procurement, even under the share-alike license.
And a quote from the late Roger Ebert
Film critic Roger Ebert on the Chicago Sun-Times enthused, “I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord… To get any film made is a miracle. To conceive of a film like this is a greater miracle.”
Here you go, sit back and enjoy the miracle of Sita Sings The Blues.