Film

Poly Styrene – I am a Cliché

Date
Fri 15 October
Time 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Price £5

Director: Celeste Bell, Paul Sng  (UK, 2020)
Certification:  12A | 1h 29 min | Documentary | Language: English

Poly Styrene was the first woman of colour in the UK to front a successful rock band. She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements.

But the late punk maverick didn’t just leave behind an immense cultural footprint. She was survived by a daughter, Celeste Bell, who became the unwitting guardian of her mother’s legacy and her mother’s demons. Misogyny, racism, and mental illness plagued Poly’s life, while their lasting trauma scarred Celeste’s childhood and the pair’s relationship.

Featuring unseen archive material and rare diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominee Ruth Negga, this documentary follows Celeste as she examines her mother’s unopened artistic archive and traverses three continents to better understand Poly the icon and Poly the mother.

★★★★  “Riveting and valuable documentary” – The Guardian

★★★★  “A perfect tribute to a complex, brilliant, groundbreaking woman”NME

★★★★★ “The film raises as many questions about how we treat celebrities, their families and their legacies, as it does make a beautiful tribute to one of the most the unique voices of the punk era” –  Critical Popcorn

★★★★ “Breaks the boundaries of the conventional punk documentary and becomes something far more interesting. few female artists receive this kind of treatment. it’s a refreshing and continually engaging piece of work” – Eye for Film

With support from the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) awarding funds from The National Lottery.

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