The documentary MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A was collated from footage taken by Maya Arulpragasm and her closet friends over the past 22 years, documenting her life from an immigrant in London to international stardom. Working with her former art school friend Steve Loveridge to produce the documentary, it gives raw insight into the struggles and joys that culminate into the persona we know as M.I.A. It offers a door into Maya’s thinking about topics related to politics, art, identity and the relationship between these.
Having fled from the Sri Lankan civil war, Maya travelled first to India and finally settled in the UK with her family, specifically a housing estate in southwest London. This journey, her experiences as an immigrant and refugee living in London make up an important part of how she constructed her identity, as well as influenced her approach to music and performance.
Viewers will also see how pop and hip hop music filtered into her life, offering a sense of feeling grounded while growing up.
The documentary presents multiple paces and tones. Moments of pause combined with heightened moments of discomfort, sensitivity, vulnerability and bliss. The viewer is invited into a time capsule to experience the building up of M.I.A as a musician and public figure. However, the most prominent aspects of the documentary share the intimate and delicate details of Maya’s discovery of her personal identity and heritage from her point of view, and the point of view of those closest to her.
“M.I.A. can read sometimes as a project…but actually when you really step back from it, like the film does, I think there is a logic to it, and a sort of consistency in her vision, all the way through, from a long time before she became a musician, just a quest to represent and nail down her identity, and own the positives and negatives about who she was.” – Steve Loveridge.
The film will be shown as part of the 20th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival taking place from 31 May – 10 June 2018 in Johannesburg and Cape Town.