Not quite ten years ago, we brought you an entire animated feature film by Nina Paley called Sita Sings The Blues. This was an amazing work that combined her experience of being dumped via email by her husband with the Indian story of Ramayana, Due to major headaches getting the rights to the music she used, Paley decided to make her film available in the public domain, which is how I was able to post it here.
Now Paley has a new film, Seder-Masochism, which she finished a couple of years ago and has been taking on the festival circuit. She decided to make it available for free a few days ago, and we’re bringing it to you now. We’ll go to the press release for details:
Seder-Masochism, an animated musical, loosely follows the Passover Seder story, with events from the Book of Exodus retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus and the director’s father. The film puts a twist on the traditional Biblical story by including a female deity perspective – the Goddess in a tragic struggle against the forces of patriarchy.
Seder-Masochism has been in the works since 2012 when Paley first animated a scene called This Land Is Mine, a parody about never-ending conflict in the Levant which has been viewed over 10 million times on various online channels.
Accustomed to working outside the mainstream movie industry, Paley has made Seder-Masochism a one-woman project: she wrote, directed, and animated it herself on a total budget of $20,000. Being independent allows her to release and distribute her films in unorthodox ways – such as into the public domain.
A Public Domain dedication (using a Creative Commons license called CC-0) means anyone can re-use, remix, and redistribute the work, with no restrictions. All of Paley’s animation and images will be free for anyone to use however they wish; however the music will continue to be controlled by its copyright holders.
Paley has no plans to pursue commercial distribution for Seder-Masochism. “I claim Fair Use for the music, but distributors are loath to do that. Instead they’d want to obtain music licenses, which would be daunting,” she says.
Just like with Sita, Paley plans on making money from her webstore, selling related merchandise, like the book, apparel, posters, and other cool things. Wikipedia offers a pretty good summation of how Seder Masochism came to be:
After Sita Sings the Blues, Paley was criticized by some observers for co-opting the culture of India as an outsider, an assertion with which she strongly disagreed. A recurring theme among the negative comments was “how would you like it if people made a film about your religion?”
Paley thought that she would enjoy watching any such film. Accepting this as a challenge, she turned to her own Jewish cultural heritage for her next project: a revisionist retelling of the story of Passover. She pored over the Book of Exodus, finding details that were not part of modern Jewish culture, for instance that Moses’s brother Aharon performed some of the acts that are commonly attributed to Moses, and that the Jews were killing each other during their 40 years “wandering” in the desert.
For inspiration, she also read The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner, and The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas. She concluded that the Book of Exodus represents the final defeat of goddess worship by the patriarchy that had been rising since the agricultural revolution.