Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché

Directed by Paul Sng, Celeste Bell

Virtual Screening


Official selection

Glasgow Film Festival 2021
South by Southwest Film Festival 2021
Hot Docs Film Festival 2021


Celeste Bell, Paul Sng


Celeste Bell, Zoe Howe, Paul Sng


Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Daria Nitsche, Matthew Silverman


Nick Ward

Sound Designer

Raoul Brand


James Adrian Brown, Marina Elderton


Xanna Ward Dixon


Pacific Northwest Pictures

United Kingdom 2021 96 mins OV English
Genre Documentary

England, July 1976. Somewhere in the crowd of a (very early) Sex Pistols concert, Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, a half-Scottish, half-Somali teenager in thick dental braces and neon-coloured frocks, sticks out like a sore thumb. Yet she feels at home, thinking to herself, “I can do that, too.” A few months later, she proves herself right by forming X-Ray Spex, a band of “young punx who want to stick it together”, and choosing the stage name Poly Styrene. A rallying energy, raw vocals, and an open disdain for artificiality made Poly Styrene a poster child for the Riot Grrrl and Afropunk movements, as she went on to become one of the most recognizable and unconventional frontpersons in punk history. Sadly, like too many other cultural mavericks of her stature, she passed away at the early age of 53 back in 2011.

Part of Poly Styrene’s legacy lies in her daughter Celeste Bell. As the co-writer and co-director of POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHÉ, alongside documentarian Paul Sng, she celebrates the life and times of her mother, while also providing an intimate glimpse into her own tumultuous relationship with the famed icon. Featuring previously unseen archives, a succession of diary entries narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga, and spoken tributes from the likes of Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, this crowdfunded documentary immortalizes the true power of Poly Styrene, a fiercely independent woman who paved the way for many musicians and feminists around the world and continues to inspire to this day… “Racist, Sexist Boy”, anyone? – Alyssia Duval-Nguon