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Poly Styrene
Poly StyrenePhotography Falcon Stuart / via

Feminist punk pioneer Poly Styrene is getting a documentary

The late singer’s daughter is crowdfunding a film that tells the ‘fascinating and sometimes frightening story’ of the legendary frontwoman

Poly Styrene, the late frontwoman of pioneering band X-Ray Spex and an icon of black feminist punk, is set to be the subject of a new documentary. Titled Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché after one of the singer’s most famous songs, the documentary – which is currently seeking crowdfunding – will be co-written by Poly Styrene’s daughter Celeste Bell (who also narrates) alongside music biographer Zoë Howe, and ties in with the 40th anniversary of X-Ray Spex’s seminal debut album, Germfree Adolescents.

Styrene was born in the UK in 1957 and had both British and Somalian roots. She formed her groundbreaking band after seeing the Sex Pistols in 1976, and went on to release a small but influential series of singles with them in the following years (as well as a handful of lesser-known solo releases). Bell and Howe write on the film’s IndieGoGo page that their documentary will explore not just her musical impact but her “fascinating and sometimes frightening story – incorporating struggles with misogyny, racism and mental health issues – (that) has remained largely untold”.

Styrene died in 2011 from breast cancer. “This film will be a celebration of the life and work of my mother, an artist who deserves to be recognized as one of the greatest front women of all time; a little girl with a big voice whose words are more relevant than ever,” Bell writes on IndieGoGo.

“Poly Styrene remains one of the most original and dynamic voices in popular culture. We’re aiming to make a film that reflects her effervescent and vivid life, and provide a fitting cinematic tribute to her legacy as an artist and icon,” says director Paul Sng.

In addition to the documentary, Bell and Howe are also co-authoring a biography about Poly Styrene, set for release in late 2018.

Revisit our 2005 interview with Poly Styrene, and watch a funding trailer below.