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Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche Rated 12A

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche

Dir. Paul Sng, Celeste Bell. UK, 2021. 1h 29m. Starring Poly Styrene, Vivienne Westwood, Thurston Moore, Neneh Cherry, Kathleen Hanna.

Poly Styrene introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about life in late 1970s Britain with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements. The late punk maverick 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.

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'The siren-wail of Poly Styrene’s voice was the authentic sound of punk: derisive, subversive, yearning and romantic. No one could have been less of a cliche' ★★★★ Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

'Poly Styrene was so iconic... Rare archive, great soundtrack' BBC Radio 3