Global Cinema Visions, a film and discussion series on Sunday afternoons at the Camden Opera House, will continue Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. with the Midcoast premiere of Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings the Blues.” Bill Halpin and Saskia Huising will lead a discussion after the film screening.

The film is the winner of 30 awards at international film festivals. In a vision of inspiring creation, director Paley combines animation, collage, photography, hand-painted watercolors, mythology, shadow-puppets and autobiography to retell the 3,000 year old Indian epic the Ramayana, as well as the story of her own collapsing marriage, all scored to the soundtrack of 1920s and ’30s jazz/blues singer Annette Henshaw, a contemporary of Bessie Smith.

Paley found herself drawn to reading the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic, when her marriage was dissolving. She said “Sita Sings the Blues” is a musical, animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic. The aspect of the story that she focuses on is the relationship between Sita and Rama, who are gods incarnated as human beings, “and even they can’t make their marriage work.”

“And then there’s my story. I’m just an ordinary human, who also can’t make her marriage work … I was moved by the story and it seemed to speak so much to my life at the time, my problems at the time. It was a very personal project from the beginning,” Paley said.

The film mixes autobiographical bits with commentary by three shadow puppets, voiced by Manish Acharya, Aseem Chhabra and Bhavana Nagaulapally, who playfully discuss the Ramayana among themselves. Their lines are completely unscripted. The actors are from different regions of India, speak different mother tongues and grew up on different versions of the story.

“There is no one Ramayana. Their discussion makes this clear,” said Paley.

Tickets for “Sita Sings the Blues” are $8 and are available at the door beginning one hour before the 2 p.m. screening. For more information, contact the Camden Opera House at 236-7963 or visit

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to