Hot Docs review: Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.

Steve Loveridge's fascinating doc looks at the evolution of the Grammy-nominated recording artist and outrage-generator

MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. (Steve Loveridge, U.S.). 97 minutes. Rating: NNNN

M.I.A. doesn’t show up until nearly the halfway mark in Steve Loveridge’s breakneck and fascinating doc.

Instead the film spends a great deal of time with home footage shot by Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, before she becomes a Grammy-nominated recording artist and outrage-generator.

Like a miniature coming-of-age story, early sequences see Maya in both London and Sri Lanka, sorting out an identity between Sri Lankan refugee and British citizen, child of an absent freedom fighter or terrorist (depending on your politics), documentarian or musician.

It’s all context that informs what comes later with M.I.A.’s combustible mix of music and activism, where the search for identity continues between popstar and provocateur.

May 2, 6:30 pm, Hot Docs Cinema (Big Ideas screening) May 3, 4 pm, Coliseum Scarborough May 5, 9 pm, and May 6, 9:30 pm, Hot Docs Cinema

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