Seeing them together, you can tell that M.I.A. and Stephen Loveridge go way back. And in fact, the easy rapport between the pop rebel and the filmmaker—who dipped into our closet last month while they were in New York promoting the release of Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.—has been in the making since the late nineties, when they first met as film students at London’s Central Saint Martins. Eventually, the two made the decision to parlay their good friendship into a close collaboration, with Loveridge assembling a portrait of M.I.A. (who was born Mathangi Arulpragasam, and whose nickname is Maya) from over seven hundred hours of intimate footage, much of which the star recorded herself. The years-in-the-making result charts the subject’s unusual path from life as a refugee of Tamil descent to worldwide fame, and also chronicles her activism against the brutality of the Sri Lankan civil war. Now that the documentary has opened to acclaim, perhaps they’ll have a moment to enjoy some of the movies they picked up at our offices.
From the get-go, the pair were clearly in their element in the closet, paying homage to a couple of gritty British classics, Mike Leigh’s Naked and Ken Loach’s Kes. M.I.A.’s political consciousness showed in her choice of Costa-Gavras’s Missing, a film set during 1973 Chilean coup that continues to resonate for her with the brutality of the Sri Lankan conflict, and Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan, “the first Tamil story in this whole closet,” a movie for which the director was initially interested in casting her. To see the friends fight over who loves Badlands more, and to hear how our Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films collector’s set had some therapeutic value for them during a particularly difficult period, watch highlights from their visit above.