Director Steve Loveridge has been a friend and collaborator with the rapper M.I.A. since they met as film students, but what saves his first documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. from the pitfalls of an adoring, glossed-over portrayal is the simple decision to take her seriously.
In adapting the wartime diaries of Marguerite Duras, Emmanuel Finkiel captures the author’s oblique style, which filters events though a thick layer of ennui, and centers on women who deal with inflicted trauma by torturing themselves.
There’s more enthusiasm than skill on display in Yadvi, a leaden biopic made by sisters Jyoti and Gauri Singh to honor their grandmother Rajmata Yadhuvansh Kumari. They use family history to illustrate the decline of Indian royalty during the twentieth century, when princely states were absorbed into the new democracy.
Miriam Makeba is an artist, a symbol, and a woman in the fractured documentary Mama Africa, but never all three at once. Mika Kaurismäki toggles between these roles in his 2011 biography of the South African singer and civil rights activist.
Documentarians Kate McIntyre Clere and Mick McIntyre take fellow Australians to task for their treatment of kangaroos, the free-roaming indigenous animals that elicit loathing as much as wonderment.