MAD | Music/Art/Design
A decade after "Paper Planes" launched M.I.A. into the charts’ stratosphere, Steve Loveridge’s all-access documentary offers welcome insights into the uncompromising pop-culture firebrand whose creativity and charisma are apparently rivalled only by her combativeness and appetite for controversy. Decades of personal footage shot by the Sri Lankan refugee-turned-subversive-icon reveal a deeply conflicted artist—torn between her Tamil resistance-fighter heritage, her desire for superstardom and her capacity for acts of self-sabotage (the most infamous being her one-finger salute at the Super Bowl halftime show that resulted in $1.5-million fine). In devoting equal screen time to triumphs and frustrations, Loveridge illustrates that album sales in the millions don’t necessarily translate into people wanting to hear what you actually have to say.
"[M.I.A. 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… 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, Guardian
Special Jury Award, Documentary, Sundance 18