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Feature Film

Help Nina Paley Complete Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings The Blues

Nina Paley’s offbeat indie animated feature Sita Sings The Blues recently was accepted into the prestigious 58th annual Berlin International Film Festival, where it’ll be having its world premiere next month. But as Paley writes on her website, “The bad news is, she’s programmed in a theater that doesn’t do Digital Cinema. That means unless I have a 35mm print by February, her one and only World Premiere will be on, well…video. I can’t let that happen.”

I’ve heard positive words from numerous people who have seen work-in-progress versions of Sita. The film, which Paley started production on in 2004, is uniquely personal, tackling the story of breaking up with her husband in India, combined with an unlikely mashup of Indian mythology and 1920s American jazz. Paley made the film entirely on her own, without a producer or studio backing, and still needs $20k to create a 35mm master. She is accepting tax-deductible donations through this website. It’s a worthy cause for animation fans who have a few extra bucks to spare.

UPDATE: Nina Paley wrote in one of the comments on her blog that everybody who donates will receive a credit in the finished film. But she says that credits will be closed Monday, “since that’s the latest I can render everything out from my computer.” So head over and donate now.

  • mwb

    Yeah, I’ve been following her production discussions on her blog for a long while, the clips and descriptions I’ve seen have really intrigued me.

    I second the call to support independently produced animation like this!

  • I saw an excerpt of this film in Tribeca about 2 years ago and it was visually stunning. I also got to meet Nina a few days back and shes a kind and wonderful lady. If I had the cash to spare I’d help her out.

  • Wouldn’t it cost less than that to buy the theater a damn digital projector?

  • Thanks Amid, mwb and Dan!

    Wouldn’t it cost less than that to buy the theater a damn digital projector?

    They do have a low-resolution “digital” video projector, but not Digital Cinema. They can play an HD tape, but not at HD resolution. I could bring a DCP server to connect, which would yield surround sound, but only video-resolution picture. The only decent picture they have there is 35mm.

    This situation exemplifies why I’d need a 35mm print sooner or later. I love Digital Cinema, but most art houses – the likeliest destination for “Sita” – don’t have it. They do have video projectors, but video doesn’t do the imagery justice. After Berlin I plan to make a DCP, which I hope some future festivals can accommodate. For those that can’t, there’s 35mm.

    The name of the cinema in question is Kino Babylon. It looks like a fun funky art house. Anyone been?

  • can’t wait to see it! I am so happy to be an independent animator in new york and be surrounded by artists like nina! (ok, so nina paley’s are few and far between! we could use a few more, then it’d feel like i was surrounded!) really looks like a beautiful film.

  • slowtiger

    Yesterday evening I saw a program of recent german animation at the Babylon. The cinema is a nice old one, carefully restored (they even have an big old cinema organ, but this is still under re-construction). What I really like is their flexible curtain system to provide the correct aspect ratio for every film. There was a mix of 35mm films among some video projection. The beamer is as good as that resolution can get.

    We already spread the word, and I expect a crowd of Berlin animators for the premiere of Sita.

  • I’ve been a big fan of Sitayana or “Sita Sings The Blues” ever since I saw clips of it on Nina’s site. Being an Indian, I can really relate to the humor and nuances in the storytelling. And I love the music too!

    I just have one question for Nina: I’ve been reading your blog and I noticed you mention in one post that you’re re-rendering your entire film at 1920 x 1080 pixels or 1080p. I’m just wondering – are you making a 2K or 4K version for the 35mm print? Or is it possible to print a 35mm version from the 1080p version itself?

    I ask this because I myself am starting out on my final student film and since it isn’t vector based, I’d like to have the master be at a good resolution when I start working on it, most probably 1080p. Is this good enough for a film version too?

    It would be great if someone could answer this.

    Again, great job on Sitayana and I wish you all the best in your endeavour to get the film version made.

  • Thanks Tim! Slowtiger, I’m glad to read your positive review of Kino Babylon. Hope to meet some of you Berlin animators there!

    Rohit, thanks! Yes 1080p (or is it 1080i? 24p) is plenty high for 35mm. In fact I made a 3-minute 35mm test of “Battle of Lanka” in 2006, when my master resolution was a mere 1280 x 720, and that looked great. The lab I use (Metropolis Film Labs in New York) up-sampled the frames first, and not a pixel could be detected anywhere. Also, the natural random grain of the film absorbs potential pixel edges. If I weren’t planning to make a Digital Cinema Package or HD in addition to film, I might not have even re-rendered Sita at 1920 x 1080. But I’m glad I did, since it won’t hurt the film and will look much better in DCP.

    Film does “warm up” digital animation in a lovely way.

  • Thanks Nina for clearing that up. Puts things into perspective!

  • Chan Mahanta

    Where can I purchase a DVD of Sita Sings the Blues?

    There is no show scheduled in my town.