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NYT on Nina Paley's award-winning film:
WHAT do a 3,000-year-old Sanskrit epic, a ’20s-era jazz singer and Indonesian shadow puppets have in common? They’re all part of the eclectic cultural tapestry that is Sita Sings the Blues, an 82-minute animated feature that combines autobiography with a retelling of the classic Indian myth the Ramayana, and that required its creator, the syndicated comic-strip artist Nina Paley, to spend three years transforming herself into a one-woman moving-picture studio.
...In 2002 Ms. Paley followed her husband, an animator, from their home in San Francisco to a town in western India. It was there that she first learned of the tale of the Ramayana. When she reached the part when Sita kills herself to prove her fidelity, she said, she thought, “That’s just messed up and wrong.”
An idea for a postfeminist comic strip began brewing. In it her new ending would still have Rama rejecting Sita, but instead of committing suicide she would become empowered. “She says, ‘To hell with you. I’m going to go join a farming collective.’ ”
Before Ms. Paley could commit her I-will-survive strip to paper, though, life intervened. While she was on a business trip to New York, her husband sent her an e-mail message telling her not to return. In a state of “grief, agony and shock,” she remained in Manhattan, camping out on friends’ sofas.