Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché

Includes Q&A

No Longer Available

Film Info
Country Listing:UK
Premiere Status:Canadian Premiere
Festival Info
Festival Year:2021
Accessibility:Closed Captions
Program Category:Artscapes
Film Subjects:Addiction & Mental Health
African Cultures & Issues
Musicians & Performers
Personal Histories
Popular Culture
Women & Women's Stories
Cast/Crew Info
Director(s):Paul Sng
Celeste Bell
Producer(s):Rebecca Mark-Lawson
Matthew Silverman
Daria Nitsche
Executive Producer(s):Nikki Parrott
Natasha Dack
Jack Oliver
Mark Thomas
Lisa Marie Russo
Richard Coram
Bruno Waser
Writer(s):Celeste Bell
Zoë Howe
Editor(s):Xanna Ward Dixon
Cinematography:Nick Ward
Composer:James Adrian Brown
Marina Elderton
Sound:Raoul Brand


Closed Captions Icon  Streaming with closed captions

Artscapes: Creative minds, artistic pursuits and inventive filmmaking

The death of Anglo-Somali punk icon and X-Ray Spex frontwoman Poly Styrene sends her filmmaker daughter on a journey across the world and through her mother's archives to reconcile their fraught relationship. As the first Black woman in the UK to lead a successful rock band, Poly introduced a new sound of rebellion with the classic "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!" and unleashed her unconventional voice and prescient lyrics on tracks about biracial identity, consumerism and postmodernism. But the late musician didn't just leave behind a large cultural footprint, she also left a legacy of private demons. In a call-and-response from beyond the grave, the singer-songwriter and her daughter dialogue through old photos, diaries and personal effects, exhuming the poverty, misogyny, racism and mental illness that plagued a mother's life and a daughter's childhood. Featuring interviews with Neneh Cherry, The Raincoats, The Bodysnatchers and The Slits, alongside energetic narration by Oscar nominee Ruth Negga, this missing chapter in music history puts Poly in her proper place—as key architect of the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements. Angie Driscoll

Artscapes program sponsored by
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  • Independent - Poly Styrene, Billie Eilish and Britney: How fame wreaks havoc on the mental health of women
  • NOW Magazine - A look back at the life of a Black feminist punk icon by her own daughter

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