Sita Sings the Blues in the Green Mtns.

sita-sings-the-blues1Swamp Thing fans will know Steve Bissette as the artist who brought some of the comic’s memorable Alan Moore scripts to life. If you want muscular tubers, Bissette’s your man. We don’t know what his chops as a film reviewer are like, but he’s mightily impressed with Nina Paley‘s Sita Sings the Blues. It’s not just the “one of the ten best animated features I’ve ever seen, period.” It’s “one of the ten best animated features ever made.”

My ol’ cartooning buddy and fellow Tundra survivor Mark Martin brought the film to my attention back in December of last year with links and forwarded emails concerning the blues Nina is still suffering over the music rights — Sita juxtaposes Nina’s own recent experience being dumped by her heartless hubby with the epic Indian tale of Ramayana and his relationship with the beautiful and faithful Sita, told in part via ingenious use of 1920’s tunes sung by Annette Hanshaw.

Who are we to disagree? Interesting to see the Ramayana continuing to infiltrate modern cinematic discourse. The sprawling Hindu myth also made a counterpart to a contemporary story in the Indonesian headfuck Opera Jawa. Both Paley and Garin Nugroho are keen to emphasize the space where myth, music and image meet. Judging from the pictures on the official Web site, Sita isn’t short on visuals that make you feel like your eyes have just been given an ablution. The film received a Crystal Bear at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival. There’s also a blog chronicling Paley’s efforts to clear her copyrights and the battle to distribute the film.

Bissette enthuses over the film and reminds you that it is screening in Montpelier on Saturday, March 28 (6:30 PM) and Sunday, March 29 (11:30 AM) as part of the Green Mountain Film Festival. Let us know if you think he’s right, and what other nine films would be on the man’s list.

UPDATE: Further investigation has found the film available to stream online. Sita is streaming on WNET’s Reel 13 blog and can be downloaded at If, like Squally, you’re suffering from a massive head cold, there can be few better ways to spend the rest of the day.


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