M.I.A.: Not A Normal Popstar

M.I.A.: Not A Normal Popstar

I love singer M.I.A.’s music, so does my entire family. So, when we found out a documentary about M.I.A. would be showing at the Orcas Island Film Fest, I signed up for the Orcas Island Lit Fest Teen Film Critics programs to review the film. When I watched it, I ended up really enjoying it and I learned a bunch of new facts about M.I.A. Below is my review about the film, which is called Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.. Hopefully it will make you want to see it, too!

THIS IS NOT A NORMAL POP DOCUMENTARY, BECAUSE M.I.A. IS NOT A NORMAL POP STAR.
— The Atlantic
Images of M.I.A. dancing. These were included in the documentary but were filmed by M.I.A. herself.

Images of M.I.A. dancing. These were included in the documentary but were filmed by M.I.A. herself.

“Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A.” by director Steve Loveridge peers into the life of hip hop and pop singer M.I.A., born Matangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, including her path to fame and how she defied stereotypes as well as the constant barrage of controversy that surrounds her. Using never before seen footage shot by M.I.A. herself over more than a decade, as well as Loveridge’s own seven hundred hours worth of documentary footage, Loveridge creates a compelling story that is about more than a musician’s ascent to fame. The documentary boldly faces issues such as racism, violence and cultural stereotypes to show viewers what life is like in Matangi’s hometown in Sri Lanka, which she was forced to flee with her mother and siblings when she was a young child.

In the film, the singer shares footage of her visits back to Sri Lanka where her father was a leader in the Tamil Tiger government-resistance movement. By doing so, she depicts the repressiveness and horrors that her family exprienced in her homeland, and the viewer is able to make the connection between the meaning behind her songs and that experience. Sounds we hear in her personal footage clearly inform her most popular song, Paper Planes. With its controversial gunshots and lyrics, M.I.A. explains that the song is “about stereotypes attached to immigrants” and people’s beliefs that they take jobs and money.

M.I.A. with director Steven Loveridge

M.I.A. with director Steven Loveridge

“M.I.A.” also includes real footage of terrorism and government executions in Sri Lanka, which may be upsetting to some, but does force audiences to really understand and appreciate the importance of what M.I.A. is speaking up about. Not only does the documentary “M.I.A.” address racism and cultural stereotypes, it also covers self-identity. Mathangi argues that you should always be yourself and stand up for what you believe in. The film also conveys that you can overcome your past, break free from your roots and what others think you are supposed to be. Your family, culture, or people who disapprove of you, cannot stop you from achieving your dream.

 I would certainly recommend this documentary, especially to people who are fans of M.I.A., interested in music, or feel confined by culture, religion, stereotypes, or nationality. However, I would caution that “M.I.A.” contains footage of graphic violence (real videos of wars in Sri Lanka and executions, as mentioned above) as well as a great deal of profanity; therefore, depending on your family’s preferences, it may not be suitable for children younger than 18.

Click on the video player above to watch a trailer for “Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.!

Video: Against All Odds

Video: Against All Odds

Video Interview With Actor Bradley James

Video Interview With Actor Bradley James