Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché

  • 96'
  • UK
  • 2021

Enchanting contrast: Poly Styrene, the lead singer of the English punk band X-Ray Spex, could scream her lungs out on stage about identity and social injustice: “Oh bondage, up yours!” However, she was disarmingly sweet off stage. “Is she a rebel?” an interviewer asks. She smiles, shyly. Softly she says: “I think so. A little, yes.”

Poly Styrene, who died in 2011, was nothing if not contradictory. An idiosyncratic woman of colour in a white man’s world. The subjects she wrote about were far ahead of her time and she refused to conform to female standards. In this documentary her life’s story is told by her daughter, Celeste Bell. She is critical, yet admiring and loving. Using amazing archival footage of the British 1970’s punk scene and interviews with contemporaries, she and director Paul Sng provide a multifaceted impression of a gentle, hypersensitive icon, the opposite of a cliché.

Directors
Celeste Bell, Paul Sng
Countries of production
UK, India, USA
Production Year
2021
Festival Edition
IFFR 2021
Length
96'
Medium
DCP
Language
English
Producers
Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Matthew Silverman
Production Companies
Velvet Joy Productions, Tyke Films, Polydoc Films
Sales
Utopia Distribution
Screenplay
Celeste Bell, Paul Sng, Zoe Howe
Cinematography
Nick Ward
Editor
Xanna Ward Dixon
Sound Design
Raoul Brand
Music
James Adrian Brown, Marina Elderton
Website
https://celeste-bell.com