Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche
with Celeste Bell
Available virtually across US for 72 hours beginning Nov 19 at 7:30pm, followed by a Q&A with co-director Celeste Bell.
Also available in person on Nov 14 at 3:30pm at MFAH, for more information visit here.
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.
|United Kingdom, 2021
|Celeste Bell, Paul Sng
|Celeste Bell, Zoe Howe, Paul Sng
|Poly Styrene, Ruth Negga, Jonathan Ross, Kathleen Hanna, Don Letts, VIvienne Westwood
|Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Matthew Silverman
|96 MINS, SECS
Celeste Bell spent her earliest years living on a Hare Krishna commune in the Hertfordshire countryside with her mother, Poly Styrene. After completing her degree from Queen Mary University of London, Celeste settled in Madrid where she worked as a teacher and formed ska-punk band Debutant Disco. After finishing a Master’s degree in Barcelona, Celeste returned to London to work alongside Zoë Howe on Day Glo! The Poly Styrene Story, published by
Omnibus Press in 2019. They then joined forces with Paul Sng to make Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, a film to accompany the book. Celeste currently manages her mother’s artistic estate, co-curating an exhibition alongside Mattie Loyce at the 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning Centre in Brixton. She plans to tour the exhibition internationally after the pandemic and is currently working on her project, with the working title of Mr. Gorbachev and the Krishna Kids.