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Nina Paley

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Nina Paley
Nina Paley Chiaroscuro.jpg
Nina Paley (2006)
Born (1968-05-03) May 3, 1968 (age 50)
Urbana, Illinois
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, penciller, cartoonist, animator
Notable works
Nina's Adventures, Sita Sings the Blues

Nina Paley (born May 3, 1968) is an American cartoonist, animator and free culture activist.[1] She was the artist and often the writer of the comic strips Nina's Adventures and Fluff, but most of her recent work has been in animation.[2] She is perhaps best known for creating the animated feature film Sita Sings the Blues, loosely based on the Ramayana, with parallels to her personal life. In 2018, she released her second animated feature, Seder-Masochism, a retelling of The Book of Exodus as patriarchy emerging from goddess worship.

Paley distributes much of her work, including Nina’s Adventures, Fluff, and all the original work in Sita Sings The Blues, under a copyleft licence.

Early life

Paley was born in Urbana, Illinois,[3] the daughter of Jean (Passovoy) and Hiram Paley.[4] Her family was Jewish.[5][6] Her father was a mathematics professor at the University of Illinois and was mayor of Urbana for a term in the early 1970s.[7]

She attended local elementary and high schools, graduating from University High School in 1986.[8] She illustrated a "History of the North Pole" comic in collaboration with University High School history teacher Chris Butler, and attended the University of Illinois, studying art for two years before dropping out. While in college, her comic "Joyride" ran in The Daily Illini newspaper.[8]

Her first animation was made when she was 13; it was recorded on Super-8 reels. Her first animation as an adult was the short story Follow your Bliss. Her second clay animation, I Heart My Cat, was shot on a Krasnogorsk camera. These two, along with Cancer, were found on VHS with the description "NINA PALEY DEMO REEL 1998". In 2012, Paley decided to publish them under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.[9]

Nina's Adventures and other work

The Hots strip

In 1988, Paley moved to Santa Cruz, California, and began to write and draw the strip Nina's Adventures. In 1991, she illustrated The Santa Cruz Haggadah[10] and moved to San Francisco. In 1995, she began to draw the more mainstream Fluff, a comic strip about a cat, which enjoyed a modest success in syndication. In 1998, she also began to experiment with animation.[11]

In 1999, she made the world's first cameraless IMAX film, Pandorama,[12] a short Modernist film which was shown widely at major film festivals in 35 mm form during 2000 and 2001. In 70 mm form, it also ran for about a year as a short feature at Berlin Cinestar and has been shown at IMAX theaters elsewhere.

In 2002, she wrote and directed Fetch!, a humorous short cartoon feature based on a variety of optical illusions, which has enjoyed popularity ever since.[13][14]

Beginning in 2002, Paley focused her work on the controversial subject of population growth. The most notable entry she produced on this subject was The Stork, in which the natural environment is bombed to destruction by storks dropping bundled babies. The film is a compact expression of the conflict between increasing human population and the ecosystem in which it must live. The 3½ minute film was a considerable success at festivals and resulted in an invitation to the Sundance Film Festival.[14]

During this period of this time, Paley also contributed several comic strips for the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, of which she is a member and occasional spokesperson.[15] Her work for the group still remains on their official website.[16]

Early in 2010, Paley started drawing a three-panel comic strip called Mimi & Eunice. She is distributing it on the web using a copyleft license.[17]

In 2012, Paley posted an animation to Vimeo titled This Land Is Mine depicting the Middle East conflicts over history; it was named a Staff Pick.[18]

Between projects, Paley has worked as a freelance director at Duck Studios in Los Angeles.[19] She has also taught in the Design and Technology section of Parsons, part of The New School.[20]

Feature films

As of 2018, Paley has created two animated feature films.

Sita Sings the Blues

At the Berlinale premiere of Sita Sings the Blues in 2008

In 2002, Paley moved to Trivandrum, India, where her husband had taken a job. While she was visiting New York City on business concerning her third comic strip, The Hots, her husband terminated their marriage. Unable to return to either Trivandrum or San Francisco, she moved to Brooklyn, New York. Her personal crisis caused her to see more deeply into the Ramayana, the Indian epic, which she had encountered in India, and motivated her to produce a short animation which combines an episode from the Ramayana with a torch song recorded in 1929 by Annette Hanshaw, "Mean To Me".[21] Paley later added episodes and other material to the work, which is now called Sita Sings the Blues. Many of the episodes appeared in animation festivals. She expanded it into a feature-length treatment of the Ramayana focused on Rama's wife, Sita, using a variety of animation styles and techniques.

The finished work premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 11, 2008[22][23] and had its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25, 2008.[24] The film was screened at more than 150 film festivals globally[25] and was broadcast on PBS in New York City.[26] For her work on Sita Sings the Blues, Paley was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award[27] and garnered more than 35 international awards,[25] including the top award at Annecy in 2008.[28] The New York Times review of Sita described it as "ambitious and visually loaded" and the film was named a NYT Critic's Pick.[29]

Seder-Masochism

In 2011 she began work on a project called Seder-Masochism,[30] an unorthodox animated film about The Exodus, showing the rise of patriarchy and the fall of goddess worship. Early support was obtained for the project through a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter.[31] In June 2018, after having worked sporadically on the film for six years, Seder-Masochism premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France.[32] Reviewers compared Paley's style to Monty Python, and praised the film's irreverent humor.[33][34] In Poland, the film was screened at the ANIMATOR film festival where it was chosen by the audience as the festival's best feature-length animated film.[35]

Free culture activism

'Copying is Not Theft' by Paley
"Copying is not theft!" badge by Paley

Because of obstacles in clearing the rights to Hanshaw's recordings for the Sita Sings the Blues, Paley took active part in the free culture movement.[36][26]

Since 2009 she is an artist-in-residence at the non-profit organization QuestionCopyright.org,[25] which includes running the projects "Minute Memes" and the "Sita Distribution Project".[37] "Minute Memes"[38] is a series of short ("one-minute") video "memes" made by Paley about copyright restrictions and artistic freedom. She wrote and performed the song "Copying Isn't Theft" meant to be freely remixed by other people,[39] with the animated clip issued as Minute Meme #1.[40] Next animations in this series are "All Creative Work Is Derivative",[41] EFF Tribute[42] and "Credit is Due: The Attribution Song".[43] She also wrote "Understanding Free Content", an illustrated guide to the idea of free content.[44]

In 2010 she started a new comic strip Mimi & Eunice, highlighting intellectual property problems and paradoxes.

She has published much of her work, including Nina’s Adventures, Fluff, and all original work in Sita Sings The Blues, under a copyleft licence.[45] The website for Sita Sings the Blues includes a wiki where its fans contributed translated subtitles for the DVD of the film.[46] On January 18, 2013, Paley posted on her blog that the copyright license for Sita Sings The Blues was being switched from CC-BY-SA to CC-0, thus placing the work into the public domain.[47]

In 2012 she was a special guest on international conference CopyCamp in Warsaw.[48]

Paley won Public Knowledge organization's IP3 award in 2010 "for her work in intellectual property".[49]

Personal life

In 2015, when Paley posted her views about trans-women such as Caitlyn Jenner, some of her friends called her "transphobic". This prompted Paley to read about trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERF), and to realize that she was not transphobic but a "gender-critical radical feminist" who argues against the social constructs that lead to a pattern of male violence.[50][51][52]

Though of Jewish ancestry, Paley is an atheist[6] as was her father.[25][51] She has been especially critical of Judaism and considers it a form of indoctrination and exploitation.[53]

Paley is openly childfree,[51] a position she actively promotes and encourages others to adopt.[54]

In 2011, she began making art quilts, some of which she has featured on her official blog.[55] The first public exhibition of her quilts was held in June 2013 in central Illinois.[56]

Works

Comic strips

Filmography

Still image from the feature film Sita Sings the Blues
  • Cancer (1998. Drawing directly on film. 2 minutes. Color. 35mm.)
  • Luv Is... (1998. Clay animation. 3.5 minutes. Beta SP / Super-8. Color.)
  • I (heart) My Cat (1998. Clay animation. 3 minutes. 16mm. Color.)
  • Pandorama (2000. Drawing directly on film. 3 minutes. color. 15perf/70mm - also known as "IMAX")
  • Fetch![57] (2001. 2-D computer animation. 4.5 minutes. 35mm. Color.)
  • Thank You for Not Breeding[58] (2002. Documentary. 36 minutes. Video. Color.)
  • The Stork[59] (2002. 2-D computer animation (Flash/Photoshop/Final Cut Pro). 3 minutes. Video. Color.)
  • Goddess of Fertility (2002. 2-D digital animation. 2 minutes. Clay animated on glass. Color. 35mm.)
  • Fertco (2002. 2-D digital animation. 3 minutes. Color. Video.)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Cancer[60] (2002. 2-D digital animation. 4.5 minutes. Color. Dialog. Video.)
  • Sita Sings the Blues (82 min, 2003–2008, 2-D digital animation. Color.)
  • This Land Is Mine - A brief history of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant[61] (3.32 min, 2012, 2-D digital animation. Color.)
  • On Children, a segment in Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet (2015. 2-D digital animation. Color.)[62]
  • Seder-Masochism (2018)

Media Appearances

  • The Tom and Doug Show - Paley has been a regular guest on the nationally syndicated Tom and Doug radio show, a weekly comedy music show on the Pacifica Radio Network.[63] She "showed" her film The Wit and Wisdom of Cancer on show 304, discussed her "Christmas Resistance movement" on show 336, discussed Tom and Doug's songs "Gangsta Knitter" and "Sooner or Later" on show 232, discussed Sita Sings the Blues on show 361, and Tom and Doug rewrote her song "Copying is Not Theft" and played it for her on show 377.[64]

References

  1. ^ Paley, Nina (March 18, 2009). "My Official Position on Copyright". blog.ninapaley.com. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  2. ^ "Nina Paley". Lambiek Comiclopedia. October 11, 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "Nina Paley". www.imdb.com. 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  4. ^ "Obituaries: Hiram Paley". www.heathandvaughn.com. January 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  5. ^ Paley, Nina (September 8, 2011). "Seder Masochism: Phase I". www.kickstarter.com. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  6. ^ a b Merli, Melissa (October 21, 2012). "Studio Visit: Nina Paley". The News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  7. ^ Wade, Patrick (January 10, 2012). "Life Remembered: Hiram Paley was a leading progressive for Urbana". The News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  8. ^ a b Merli, Melissa (May 18, 2008). "First movie 'a full-time job' for Uni High grad, illustrator". The News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved 2 August 2018. 
  9. ^ Paley, Nina (January 21, 2012). "Ye Olde Animation". blog.ninapaley.com. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  10. ^ Roekard, Karen G.R. (1991). The Santa Cruz Haggadah : a Passover Haggadah, coloring book, and journal for the evolving consciousness. illustrations by Nina Paley (private ed.). Capitola, CA: Hineni Consciousness Press. ISBN 9780962891380. OCLC 52729227. 
  11. ^ Paley, Nina (October 2005). "Big Long Nina Paley Biography". www.ninapaley.com. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  12. ^ Paley, Nina. "Pandorama". www.ninapaley.com. Retrieved 6 August 2018. 
  13. ^ "Fetch! (2002)". IMDb.com. 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  14. ^ a b "An Animated Discussion: Speaking of the Future with Nina Paley". www.speculist.com. October 16, 2003. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  15. ^ "Nina Paley and Mike Treder". bloggingheads.tv. The Nonzero Foundation. September 11, 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  16. ^ "VHEMT-related cartoons". vhemt.org. Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  17. ^ Paley, Nina (March 9, 2010). "Mimi & Eunice". blog.ninapaley.com. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  18. ^ Paley, Nina (October 1, 2012). "This Land is Mine". vimeo.com. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  19. ^ "Tiny Inventions Takes to DUCK Studios". Animation Insider. September 29, 2010. Archived from the original on October 25, 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  20. ^ Parsons - Design & Technology Faculty, Nina Paley Archived 2006-12-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "Featured artist - Nina Paley: Sita Sings the Blues". www.flashgoddess.com. October 2005. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  22. ^ "Sita Sings the Blues (2008) Release Info". www.imdb.com. October 2, 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  23. ^ Ebert, Roger (2009). "Sita Sings the Blues". Ebertfest.media.illinois.edu. Roger Ebert's Film Festival. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  24. ^ "Discovery: Sita Sings the Blues". www.tribecafilm.com. Tribeca Film Festival. April 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  25. ^ a b c d Merli, Melissa (August 10, 2014). "Paley's 'This Land Is Mine' a viral hit". The News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  26. ^ a b Merli, Melissa (April 20, 2009). "Urbana native's film part of her push for free culture". The News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  27. ^ Moody, Annemarie (2 December 2008). "Sita Sings Blues Creator Nominated For Indie Spirit Award". Animation World Network. Retrieved 8 May 2018. 
  28. ^ Ramanathan, Lavanya (September 25, 2008). "An Ancient Tale, Newly Animated". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  29. ^ Scott, A.O. (December 24, 2009). "Legendary Breakups: Good (Animated) Women Done Wrong in India". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  30. ^ Ninapaley.com
  31. ^ seder-masochism-phase-i on Kickstarter.com
  32. ^ Amid Amidi (23 April 2018). "Annecy 2018: 23 Animated Feature Films In Official Selection". Cartoon Brew. 
  33. ^ Luis Martinez (June 14, 2018). "El patriarcado desacralizado y otros milagros de la animación radical en Annecy". El Mundo (in Spanish). 
  34. ^ Matthieu Ruard (June 2018). "Annecy 2018 | Wall / Seder-Masochism". Courte-Focale (in French). Retrieved August 15, 2018. 
  35. ^ "Here Are the Winners". ANIMATOR festival. July 12, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018. 
  36. ^ Bell, Melissa (April 6, 2012). "Online leaders look to create offline experiences". The Washingon Post. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  37. ^ Questioncopyright.org
  38. ^ Questioncopyright.org
  39. ^ "Copying Isn't Theft" -- Your Versions, QuestionCopyright.org. accessed May 28, 2009
  40. ^ "Copying Is Not Theft (Minute Meme #1)"
  41. ^ "All Creative Work Is Derivative (Minute Meme #2)"
  42. ^ "Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrates 20 years with new animation from Nina Paley."
  43. ^ "Credit is Due (The Attribution Song)"
  44. ^ Understanding Free Content, QuestionCopyright.org, 2009-04-02. accessed May 28, 2009
  45. ^ "The whole struggle with our broken copyright system turned me into a Free Culture activist. I’m actually going to release all my old “Nina’s Adventures” and “Fluff” comics under a Share Alike (copyleft) license too." Sitasingstheblues.com accessed May 28, 2009
  46. ^ See its lists of subtitles and screenings
  47. ^ ahimsa-sita-sings-the-blues-now-cc-0-public-domain on Ninapaley.com
  48. ^ "Copycamp Talk". blog.ninapaley.com. 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  49. ^ Publicknowledge.org Archived 2012-04-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  50. ^ "The TERFening: attempting to document a convoluted online silencing campaign" blog.ninapaley.com. 2017-03-22.
  51. ^ a b c Dolle, Pauline (April 3, 2018). "Moses make-over by animator Nina Paley will have you grooving". nycreligion.info. A Journey Through NYC Religions. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  52. ^ "The Banality of Stupid" blog.ninapaley.com. 2017-03-23.
  53. ^ "Jews, Zionists, Israelis" blog.ninapaley.com. 2012-10-19.
  54. ^ "Childfree!" on Ninapaley.com
  55. ^ quilting on blog.ninapaley.com
  56. ^ Merli, Melissa (June 13, 2013). "Urbana artist Paley putting quilt art on display". The News-Gazette. Champaign, IL. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  57. ^ Fetch! on Youtube
  58. ^ Thank You for Not Breeding on Vimeo
  59. ^ The Stork on Youtube
  60. ^ The Wit & Wisdom of Cancer on Youtube
  61. ^ This Land Is Mine on Vimeo
  62. ^ Murphy, Mekado (August 5, 2015). "Bill Plympton Lends His Animation Skills to 'Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet'". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  63. ^ Tomanddoug.com
  64. ^ Audioport.org

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