MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. (2018)

Many years in the making, this [is a] definitive documentary on political musician [M.I.A.] […]. [She] is the controlling spirit of this enjoyable documentary: always the centre of attention, performing and setting the mood with absolute magnetism. It’s clear she’s the director of her own life and [director Stephen] Loveridge just happens to occasionally be in the right place at the right time.

[M.I.A.] and her siblings had to be tough and reinvent themselves in the absence of a father who was away as an activist in the Tamil resistance movement. Her music, artwork, fashion and general angry-rave aesthetic appears to have come to her with little effort; she just knew it would work. Toughness is a recurring theme. Arulpragasam never takes an easy route, composing her own music and conceptualising her own music videos from the start […].

The film comes from a place of deep admiration for [M.I.A.], but unlike more fawning biographies, it makes a convincing case that this admiration is well earned. […] It seems [M.I.A.] will be fighting forever, a one-woman awkward squad whose background, both economically and racially, means she’s not allowed to get too popular. It’s right that for once, in this film, she truly gets to control her own narrative.

Charlie Phillips, The Guardian

  • Orig. title:
  • Language: English, Tamil
  • Subtitles: partly English
  • Distribution: NonStop Entertainment
  • Cinematography: Graham Boonzaaier, Catherine Goldschmidt, Matt Wainwright
  • Editing: Marina Katz, Gabriel Rhodes