Monday, August 20, 2012

"Death and the Queen" well-received at MOSAIC

On Saturday, August 18th, "The Legend of Ponnivala: Death and the Queen" premiered at the MOSAIC International South Asian Film Festival of Mississauga.

Appearing by invitation from festival organizer Dinesh Sachdev, this was the first major festival premiere for a Ponnivala movie. Several of the cast and crew were on hand for the premiere, including series Writer / Director Dr. Brenda Beck, who took the time for a little Q&A after the show.

With just over a hundred people in the audience, "Death and the Queen" was one of the best-attended and most highly-anticipated presentations of the festival. The audience reception was very positive, and we're looking forward to bringing "Death and the Queen" to more festivals and theatres around the world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Death and the Queen interviews on Tamil media in Toronto

This Tuesday, August 14, Dr. Brenda Beck stopped in at TTR (Toronto Tamil Radio) and TVI (Tamil Vision International) for a pair of interviews leading up to the premiere of Death and the Queen in Mississauga this coming Saturday.

The radio interview with Siva Sinniah aired on Tuesday. The televised interview with Ravi Aathman on TVI will air Thursday at 6:00 p.m..

Tamil Vision Internationl can be seen on Rogers channel 867, and Bell channel 707.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Legend of Ponnivala: Death and the Queen -- now an official entry at MOSAIC International South Asian Film Festival of Mississauga 2012

(updated links and trailer: Aug. 10, 2012)
Toronto—July 26, 2012
The Sophia Hilton Foundation of Canada and Soft Science Associates are thrilled to announce the premiere of their new animated feature, Death and the Queen, at the Mosaic South Asian Heritage Festival, Saturday, August 18, 2012, 2:30PM at the Noel Ryan Theatre in Mississauga.
Download full colour (PDF) posters:
Small (5.04 x 8.92 inches): Click here (12 MB)
Medium (10.10 x 17.85 inches): Click Here (34 MB)
Large (20.19 x 35.69 inches): Click Here (101 MB)
Letter Size (8.5 x 11 inches): Click Here (2.5 MB)
Legal Size (8.5 x 14 inches): Click Here (14 MB)
Top and bottom letterbox borders (black area only) may be cropped for publishing.
Death and the Queen is an animated tale excerpted from the much larger Legend of Ponnivala epic, which is based on an ancient South-Indian legend known as the Annanmar Kathai or “Elder Brothers' Story.” It tells the tale of a local queen named Tamarai who must travel to the gates of Heaven to plead with the Hindu god Shiva. She wants him to lift a family curse of barrenness. With the burden lifted, her sons—the folk heroes Ponnar and Shankar—are born. In an effort to glorify their family and heir kingdom (Ponnivalanadu), these twin kings face combat with ferocious beasts and fierce warriors, until fate reclaims them and returns their spirits to Lord Shiva at just sixteen years of age.
The Legend of Ponnivala is a vast epic legend from the Kongu region of Tamil Nadu in South India. Little known outside of its home region, the story was brought to the world when Brenda Beck; then a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at Oxford; left to study Tamil society in India in 1964. There, she was presented with a live performance of the popular local legend, which is still sung by bards in the ancient oral tradition. An epic adventure about the earliest farming origins in Kongu Nadu, the story took an astonishing eighteen evenings to perform, and used some 44 hours of reel-to-reel audio tape to record.

While highly localized and surprisingly unique, the epic has a deep connection with the greatest of all Indian epics, the Mahabharata (including reincarnations of some of its key heroic characters). It provides fascinating insights into Indian Tamil culture as well as Hindu folk mythology in general.
In 2006, preliminary work began on adapting this great epic to create an animated series titled The Legend of Ponnivala. The result of that adaptation is an unparalleled animated series (now in post-production) comprising twenty six half-hour episodes. The style of the animation, created under the artistic direction of Indian-Canadian artist Ravichandran Arumugam and technical direction of Eric Harris, has been painstakingly crafted to reflect a traditional Indian folk art style, while the 2D animation is modelled on South Asian shadow puppetry.
This production has also spawned a complete comic book series in English and Tamil, as well as several children's stories, short films, classroom teaching materials, and soon a downloadable computer version of Parcheesi, an Indian strategy game that features prominently in the story.
Death and the Queen was written and directed by Brenda Beck. The original 1965 audio recordings have been used as part of the film's soundtrack scored by Steafan Hannigan. The score also features Subhadra Vijaykumar on Carnatic violin. The film features the voice and narration talents of Lata Pada, Sumit Bhatia, Afroz Khan, Ishwar, Sanjay Talreja, and Priyadarshini Govindarajan.
For more information, visit:
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Available for interviews:
Brenda Beck
For media enquiries, please contact:
The Sophia Hilton Foundation of Canada
Brenda Beck

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Brenda Beck at the Senior Tamils Centre of Ontario

The Legend of Ponnivala (in Tamil) gets a thumbs up from venerable seniors' group

Brenda Beck spoke in Tamil this morning to about 35 seniors from the Senior Tamils Centre of Ontario at the invitation of its President, Maya Kandiah. The event lasted nearly 90 minutes and took place in the community hall attached to the Sri Ayyappan Temple in Scarborough. The response from the members was very enthusiastic and a lot of good questions were asked.
Brenda showed the first episode of her 26 episode animated video series: “In The Beginning.” This first part of the giant epic Ponnivala legend explains how the farmers of the Ponnivala area came to be, how they established families, how they came to worship a local goddess, and how they learned to till the rich soil of the area. This initial segment of the story also provides a mythological explanation describing how the social dynamics and rules governing local village life first became codified.
This morning was the very first time that this episode has been shown publicly with its Tamil voice track. The voicing of this entire epic in Tamil is only now being produced in a recording studio in Chennai. Dr. Beck also circulated copies of her 26 graphic novels in Tamil to the many eager readers in the crowd, along with a digital version on an iPad which several seniors enjoyed flipping through. The crowd was charmed by Brenda’s efforts to tell her story in Tamil and expressed their approval of her long term commitment to communicate to the world some of the richness and depth of Tamil culture.