This M.I.A. Doc Looks Like It Deserves to See the Light of Day

Slate's Culture Blog
July 8 2013 5:35 PM

This M.I.A. Doc Looks Like It Deserves a Release

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M.I.A. performs during the World Premiere of the smart forjeremy Showcar by Jeremy Scott at Jim Henson Studios on Nov. 27, 2012 in Hollywood

Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for smart

Yesterday, filmmaker Steve Loveridge uploaded the trailer below for his documentary about M.I.A. to his Tumblr, in hopes that leaking it would prompt Interscope to “wake up.” Now Loveridge has apparently quit the project in frustration. In private emails that Loveridge also posted to Tumblr, a Roc Nation employee mentions troubles with “legal stuff and funding,” which the director seems to have had enough of. Drawing further attention to the dispute, M.I.A. herself went on a tear on her Twitter feed, calling upon Kickstarter and her fans to help bring the doc back to life, claiming that it had been “black listed through normal channels.”

Regardless of what roadblocks may be holding this documentary back, the trailer suggests that it’s worth clearing all that away so that it can get out into the world. Featuring years of footage going back to when M.I.A. (born Mathangi Arulpragasam, and nicknamed Maya) was a teenager—plus interviews with Jimmy Iovine, Spike Jonze, Kanye West, and more—the doc has quite a story to tell, tracing Maya’s rise from daughter of a militant Tamil separatist group to global pop superstar. Not to mention her public quarrels with Diplo, the FCC, Sri Lankan politicians, and many, many others, which are also touched upon here. Even if you don’t like her music or politics—some of which have come to seem at least a little less paranoid in recent months—it’s hard to deny that she’s a fascinating subject.

Can a documentary about Maya released by her own label be evenhanded? Maybe not. But the trailer makes this project look awfully compelling even so. Here’s hoping they’ll resolve that “legal stuff and funding” so that this can see the light of day.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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