SIFF Face the Music 2018 Preview: Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.

Matthew Howland

(Sri Lanka | 2018 | 94 minutes | d: Stephen Loveridge)

Festival Screenings:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 23 6:30 PM | SIFF Cinema Uptown
THURSDAY, MAY 24 6:30 PM | Ark Lodge Cinemas

M.I.A., the moniker of noted musician and visual artist Maya Arulpragasam, has had a singular career in modern pop culture. Since releasing her debut mixtape in 2004, that resulted in being signed to XL Records, M.I.A. has grown exponentially in fame, actively courting controversy like few other artists of her time. 2016 saw the release of the purportedly final M.I.A. album, titled AIM, which garnered generally mixed reviews. M.I.A. has always been a deeply visual performer, who relies on music videos to capture the full breadth of her political agenda. Thus, a feature film on M.I.A seems only fitting. Culled from over 700 hours of footage, 2018's Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. captures a unique portrait of the artist that also aims to be a personal manifesto. 

Directed by close friend Stephen Loveridge, Matangi / Maya / M.I.A spans decades of M.I.A.'s life, from her forced departure from Sri Lanka as a child  to her subsequent rise to stardom in the early 2000s. These clips of video and sound are presented non-chronologically, placed to emphasize the revolutionary spirit that has stayed with M.I.A. throughout her career. These juxtapositions also refuse to let the viewer separate M.I.A.'s politics from her art and music, which many writers and critics have attempted to do. This results in an exhiliratingly confrontational experience, M.I.A. necessarily given free reign over the screen for 90 minutes. 

Matangi / Maya / M.I.A has previously screened at Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award, awarded to both Loveridge and M.I.A. 

KEXP is a proud co-sponsor of the "Face the Music" series at the 2018 Seattle International Film Festival, running May 17 - June 10 in various theatres across the area. Follow along with all our coverage throughout the festival here.

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