From refugee daughter of a Tamil revolutionary and aspiring filmmaker to pop stardom and controversy magnet: this stimulating documentary about Sri Lankan musician M.I.A. dances to its own idiosyncratic beat.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2018
An unconventional biography of a defiantly unconventional pop star, this documentary delivers a rousing and multifaceted portrait of Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. Better known to friends and family as Maya, M.I.A.’s exceptional path from stardom – propelled by her Slumdog Millionaire megahit ‘Paper Planes’ – to media pariah is charted by first-time documentarian Steve Loveridge, who attended art school with her in the 1990s. — MM
“Loveridge’s movie is a fantastic and kinetic fulfillment of Maya Arulpragasam’s desire to be heard as more than an entertainer. Starting with her 2004 debut, M.I.A. beat an aesthetically game-changing and controversy-strewn path across pop culture, broadcasting her backstory as a Tamil revolutionary’s refugee daughter who was trained in a London art school and steeped in US hip-hop. Her early aspiration of becoming a documentary filmmaker means Loveridge has a trove of electrifying pre- and post-fame footage to work with, which he uses for a smart, lively investigation of M.I.A.’s own vital themes: the lives of immigrants worldwide, the plight of the Sri Lankan people, and the question of whether pop stars can make effective political activists.” — Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic