Nina Paley’s ingenious animated feature and festival favorite, SITA SINGS THE BLUES, finally makes its DVD debut today, July 28. One of the most unique full-length animated works in years and among the most beloved films at this Spring’s Florida Film Festival, SITA juxtaposes multiple narrative and visual styles to present a personal and thoroughly modern adaptation of the Indian epic, The Ramayana, as it relates to the real-life tale of the filmmaker’s marriage falling apart. Throw in a Greek chorus of a wryly comic trio of Indonesian shadow puppets, a monkey army, and awesome old jazz and blues recordings from 1920s legend Annette Hanshaw, and you have an adult-friendly cartoon unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.
And it’s precisely those charming and haunting old songs on the soundtrack that have caused the delay in the film’s homevideo release. While Hanshaw’s recordings are in the Public Domain, the song compositions and lyrics were actually owned by a handful of big media corporations who were asking for exorbitant license fees. Paley went into debt to finally clear the rights, but her loss is our gain–the film is now 100% legit and available for public consumption. If you saw it at a festival, support Nina and plunk down your $19.99 to own a copy of this extraordinary work. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely need to check out this witty and beautiful debut feature that inspired Roger Ebert to write on his Chicago Sun-Times blog, “I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishly original.” ‘Nuff said.