M.I.A. Resumes Documentary, Calls Middle-Finger Gesture 'Spiritual'

Filming for the movie is now taking place in London

M.I.A. performs in New York City.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images
M.I.A. performs in New York City.
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Production has resumed on a long-promised documentary about electro-rap firebrand M.I.A. After the artist announced last year that she was making a doc to accompany her just-released fourth LP, Matangi, trouble arose when director Steve Loveridge quit in July. Now filming has resumed in London, with Loveridge still behind the camera and a new set of co-producers in the non-profit documentary support organization BRITDOC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  

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For the documentary, Loveridge, who has known M.I.A. since their days together at a London art school, will cull from hundreds of hours of privately shot footage that M.I.A. and her friends have been filming. Its goal is to present an intimate look at the geneses of M.I.A.'s music, art and attitude. It will be Loveridge's first feature. Previously, BRITDOC has assisted in the production of the Oscar-nominated look at PTSD, Hell and Back Again, and a film about the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, No Fire Zone, among other projects.

Production holdups for the documentary seem to lie largely with M.I.A.'s record label. In July, the Roc Nation label reportedly emailed Loveridge asking him to remove a trailer for the documentary from his Tumblr over a copyright claim. The director replied, "I really couldn't give a flying fuck. Count me out. Would rather die than work on this . . . nothing personal :)" A month later, M.I.A. reported on Twitter that the doc was back on. "We grindin, we still choppin," she wrote, providing no further details at the time.

Concurrently with the production of the documentary, M.I.A. has been dealing with the repercussions of flipping the bird and mouthing "I don't give a shit" during her guest appearance in Madonna's halftime set at the 2012 Super Bowl. In September it was reported that the NFL was seeking $1.5 million and a public apology from the artist. M.I.A.'s lawyer fired back, saying there were other bigger issues the NFL should be concerned with, such as the felonies committed by its athletes and players' homophobic and racist slurs, among other grievances.

Now, M.I.A. has spoken out about her middle finger. In a recent interview with NPR, she described the gesture as "the Matangi mudra." In the interview, she compared the gesture to a gang sign. "Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you're meditating or praying or whatever," she said. "And you have different ones based on what you're meditating over. There's not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi – the Matangi mudra."

She clarifies that she was not "giving America the middle finger," in NPR's words. "It's cultural!" she exclaimed. "In my country, it's godly. OK?"

As for how she feels about the NFL, she said, "Of course the NFL is not believing that, because the NFL does not believe in any other culture outside of the NFL. But it's true; you can Wikipedia it. You can just say 'Matangi' and 'mudra,' and you'll see it's the middle finger."

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