M.I.A’s new controversial documentary film puts spotlight on Sri Lanka

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Pop sensation M.I.A. is not a typical pop star, and her upcoming documentary, MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. won’t be a typical pop documentary, Newsweek reported.

The film, which premiered at Sundance, has been praised for its innovation and spirit, reaching past the boundaries of the life of a typical celebrity. The film will be released in theaters on September 28.

The documentary footage follows M.I.A. from childhood through adulthood, exploring her individual background and love of music, but viewers should not expect the music to be her only focus. M.I.A., originally from Sri Lanka, documented the genocide around her. Her mission in the documentary release is to showcase her own filmmaking, and the places she came from.

“In Sri Lanka, we were surrounded by civil war. My dad was the founder of the Tamil resistance,” she said in the trailer. “There’s a genocide going on. We don’t want to talk about death. Talk about Beverly Hills.” She urges other celebrities to do the same. “You’ve got access to the microphone. Please use it to say something.”

The war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009. Over 70,000 people died in the 25-year genocide, according to World Without Genocide.

M.I.A. has been a long-time activist, speaking on the war in Sri Lanka. Her privilege as a pop star has kept parts of the public from believing she can identify with the tragedy.

“When the war came to an end in Sri Lanka in 2009, it actually did affect me,” she told The Guardian in May 2017. “Everyone was, like, ‘What the f*** does she know? She’s, like, a pop star,’ but that was my life. It was 50 percent of who I was, it was my identity. I didn’t know what to do with myself.”

In 2016, she was banned from entering the U.S., though her visa was approved in May 2017, according to NME.

M.I.A. is most known for her single Paper Planes which was released in 2007. In the documentary trailer, the singer explains the track is inspired by the stereotypes surrounding immigrants. Lyrics are missed with sound effects of gunshots and a cash register ding, stressing the idea that immigrants want to take money from natural citizens.

Her latest album, AIM, was released in September 2016. Its hit song, Borders, speaks of politics and rebelling against the system.