Off the Wall
One great thing about working on a big project that takes years is it leaves time for serendipity. Last week I received an email about Sita Sings the Blues from one MV Bhaskar, who seemed unusually knowledgeable about Ramayana interpretations. After a few emails back and forth, I learned he is behind an ambitious project to digitally archive the ancient temple murals of Tamil Nadu. Many of these murals depict stories from the Ramayana.
Earlier this year I was so frustrated in my attempts to access good antique Ramayana images, I started faking my own. So learning about the mural archive set off a pavlovian salivation response. From the few low-res images posted here, it looks like they are really beautiful. So now, in addition to my mediocre phony Mughal miniatures, I dream of animating some of these 500-year-old beauties.
Even if that doesn't work out, the mural site is pretty inspiring, and I'm eager to watch it grow. Bhaskar also produced Uur - A Video Essay on Tamil and Tribology, a public-domain audio archive of tribal songs of Orissa. That site includes several videos, including this slightly mind-blowing one of 2 kids singing into a "microphone" and "cassette recorder."
"The Stork" at MoMA, October 19 & 22Shorts from Channel 13's Reel New York will screen at the Museum of Modern Art and I'm thrilled they're including my 2002 propaganda piece The Stork. I'll be there for the Q & A so come on down and ask questions like "why do you hate children?" and "don't you know the West is suffering an Infertility Crisis?" and "but the problem is consumption, not population!" (yeah, the last is a statement, not a question, but believe me I've heard it all), or just say hi.
Thursday, October 19, 6:00 (presented by the filmmakers)
Sunday, October 22, 2:00
Lots of other great films will be screened too, it's a very good show.
Watch Like An Egyptian
Well, that was fun. 36 hours in LA, my film on the big screen at the beautiful Egyptian Theater, and people being nice to me including LFCA critic and show curator Ray Greene, Mark Medernach of Duck Studios, my old pal and sometimes webmaster Ian Akin, my other old pal and illustrator Alistair Milne, and a social whirl of many others. Now I'm back in my quiet Hell's Kitchen hermitage, recovering from jetlag and getting ready for the next phase of my project.
I'll be at that September 22 screening after all...
I just bought a spur-of-the-moment bargain-basement ticket to LA so I can attend DANGEROUS VISIONS: ANIMATED SHORTS FOR CONNOISSEURS & GROWN-UPS, which I earlier wrote about here. I got all excited because the 35mm print of Battle of Lanka just came back from the lab, and it looks great. The blues are over-saturated - Rama's skin tone will burn your eyes right out - but that merely adds a "technicolor" surreal quality, and the grain of the film really warms it up. The resolution is superb; there's nary a pixel to be seen. Really, it looks much, much better on film than on DVD, and the compressed little web versions aren't worth comparing. Anyway, I WILL be at the post-screening Q & A, A-ing your Q's, so if you're in LA please please come and watch and say hi.
Friday, September 22, 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Nurse NinaMy old cartoonist pal Keith Knight got pneumonia and asked me do do a substitute "K Chronicles" strip for him. Since Keith came to my own rescue 12 years ago, when I lost use of my drawing hand for 6+ months (long, awful story - suffice to say it's much better now) I jumped at the opportunity to repay my karmic debt. Get well soon, Keef!
I need a screenprinter!
UPDATE: looks like I'm using a printer in New Jersey.
I spent all day looking for a good screenprinter. I've queried all my friends and colleagues for a recommendation. They, like me, "used to know someone just great but that was 15 years ago." Are there any local small-business screenprinters left? Have crappy online process-color companies put everyone out of business? Say it ain't so. I need an artisan, preferably somewhere around New York (but not required if they're really great), with a six-color press (I need 4 spot colors + metallic gold) for a smallish run of about 40 shirts. I can supply the shirts, I just need the printing. Recommendations, anyone? Please leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks!
Lille, France is having a big ol' culture-fest throughout this Fall and Winter called Lille3000. It's main focus is India: Indian art, Indian cinema, Indian music, and cultural mashed-up interpretations of such from around the world. Which is why shorts from Sita Sings the Blues will be included in an arts exhibition called K(art)ma. In France? Don't miss it.
I've been working on Sita's triumphant suicide scene for over a month now. For those unfamiliar with the Uttara Kanda of the Ramayana, Sita's mortal incarnation ends when she calls upon Mother Earth to take her back into her womb. This is Sita's response to yet another wishy-washy rejection from Rama.
A lot of women hate this part of the story, but I love it. It's the Best Suicide Ever! Even though I'm working to a little Annette Hanshaw ditty called I've Got a Feelin' I'm Fallin' (she's fallin' straight into the Earth, get it?), Sita's assertion of power reminds me of I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. Except Sita won't survive, which is the point. So I revised the lyrics, below.
I Won't Survive
At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinkin' I could never die without you by my side
Then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And now it's time I moved along
And so you're back from outer space
I just walked in to find you here, with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second you'd be back to bother me
Go on now, go walk out the door
Just turn around now
'Coz you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to break me with goodbye?
Did you think I'd crumble?
Did you think I'd wait around and cry?
Oh no not I, I won't survive
For now that I've stopped loving you, I don't have to stay alive
I no longer need to live
I gave you all I had to give
I won't survive
I won't survive
It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Just trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart
And I spent oh so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry, but now I hold my head up high
And you see me, somebody new
I'm not that chained up little person still in love with you
And so you felt like dropping in and just expect me to be free
But now I'm savin' all my lovin' for the goddess that is me
(repeat verses 2-3)
As I've mentioned before, animating Sita's story is my way of mending my own broken heart, and animating Sita's death is my way of killing my Inner Sita. Which may explain why this chapter, more than others, has seen me procrastinating and taking day-long naps; I think my subconscious is working overtime.
Long live Sita!
Chili Film Festival - London, September 10Sita Sings the Blues clips will screen in two different animation programs at London's Chili Film Festival, 10 September, 11 am - 8pm, Corbet Place. Have fun you crazy Britons!