Poly Styrene was a punk rock icon and the first woman of colour in the UK to front a successful rock band. In an industry dominated by white men and more than a few phonies, she sounded like rebellion — an authentic, unconventional voice who chronicled the turbulence she saw in late 1970s Britain. As the lead singer of X-Ray Spex, she sang about identity, consumerism and postmodernism, with verve and feeling, her own conversion to punk rock stemming from having witnessed the Sex Pistols play Hastings pier in 1976.
An unconventional subject demands an unconventional treatment. Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché the new documentary from Paul Sng and the singer’s own daughter Celeste Bell, takes unexpected paths as it engages with the singers artistic triumphs as well as her struggles and contradictions. Narrated by Oscar-nominee Ruth Negga and featuring previously unseen archive material and rare diary entries, the film spans decades and continents as it works to understand Poly Styrene as an icon, a mother and a person.