The New M.I.A Documentary Shows Her Lesser-Known Side

Steve Loveridge's 'MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.' finally debuted at Sundance and focuses on the musician's activism on behalf of Tamils.
January 24, 2018, 12:43pm

It seemed like the day would never come, but here we are. The long-awaited M.I.A film, MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A., just premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Made by Steve Loveridge—M.I.A.'s longtime friend, with whom she studied at London's Central St Martin's university—the film attempts to show a various sides of the musician, not just the controversial persona so often portrayed in the media.

One of the tropes of this film's production has been a distance seeming to yawn between Loveridge and M.I.A, where as recently as last March M.I.A joked that the film might take another ten years. in keeping with the theme, in a video interview with Deadline done before the premiere (watch it above), M.I.A. stated "I don't know what's in the film," which is surely a solid gold quote from the subject of a film right before said film is screened for the first time. She added: "I just gave him loads of like, tour footage, and like, arty kind of things that I'd experimented with. But he didn't use a single bit of that." She also said that the film doesn't necessarily focus on her music career. "It's just not a music doc," Loveridge said. "It's not what people expect," alluding to the film's title, which uses all three of M.I.A.'s aliases, and suggesting that many facets of her personality and career are included.


And though in the initial video interview, M.I.A. joked that "we're anticipating a massive fallout," in Deadline's follow-up interview, she seemed pleased with the final product. From what we can glean here, the film gives a lot of space to her advocacy work within the complex political situation in Sri Lanka:

I think it’s nice that he managed to filter it down to the essence of what needed to be discussed. Because in my own head, there’s a million other things that I would have wanted to discuss. You know, it’s almost like he just literally took what I said and put images to it, like it was really simplified, but he had every shot. Which is so weird, because I never knew that I had those things. When I handed him the Elastica tapes and the Sri Lanka stuff, the things that he picked out were not the things that I gave him the tapes for. And the fact that he found a shot to represent things I’d said throughout time was kind of amazing, you know.

MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. doesn't have a set UK release date yet but it's here. At least it's here.

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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.