Searching for Sugar Man

© Rapid Eye Movies
Sweden/Great Britain 2012, Documentary, 86’ Director, Screenplay, Editor Malik Bendjelloul | DoP Malik Bendjelloul, Camilla Skagerström | Sound Per Nyström | Music Sixto Rodriguez | Production Simon Chinn, Malik Bendjelloul | Distribution Rapid Eye Movies HE GmbH

Detroit, in the early 1970s, and Mexican-American singer Sixto Rodriguez is playing in a dingy backyard. Two renowned producers visiting the concert are impressed. The lyrics are so good that they stand comparison with Bob Dylan. But despite the rave reviews, Rodriguez’s records are a flop and his career in the USA is at an end before even it took off. In South Africa, however, comes the good fortune that was missing back home. Rodriguez’s rousing and liberating music inspires the anti-apartheid movement and, though his songs are banned from radio play, »Sugar Man« becomes a superstar. Cold Fact, his first record, is on the turntable at every party and – along with Abbey Road by the Beatles and Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel – is to be found in every record cabinet.

Yet no one knows exactly where Rodriguez lives. Rumours of his suicide make the rounds. Only in the post-apartheid era, when a South African music journalist tries to track him down, is any light shed on the matter. What then follows is the fairy-tale-like story of a star that did not want to become one, of a musical genius whose time had not yet come. In this filmic journey, Malik Bendjelloul portrays a fascinating personality and the quieter side of fame. Not only that: the songs of Sixto Rodriguez feature on the soundtrack.

MALIK BENDJELLOULlives in Stockholm and has been making documentary films for Swedish TV for more than twelve years. In 2001, he had a minor success with his first documentaries about the German electropop pioneers Kraftwerk. In addition, he has shot documentary films featuring the likes of Björk, Sting, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Mariah Carey, U2 and Kylie Minogue. Mr Bendjelloul also produces shorter documentaries for Kobra, a Swedish culture programme. One of his subjects there was Alfred Merhan, who lived for 18 years at Charles de Gaulle Airport and whose life ultimately inspired Steven Spielberg to make The Terminal. Another of Bendjelloul’s subjects was the secret military unit known as the New Earth Army which went on for the Hollywood treatment under the name of The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Films by Malik Bendjelloul
Tavis Smiley
2013 | The Jeff Probst Show 2013 | 60 Minutes 2012

Awards for ›Searching for Sugar Man‹ (Selection)
Oscar, Best Documentary, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2013 | Best Documentary, British Academy Awards 2013 | Audience Award Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2012 | Special Jury Prize Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2012 | Audience Award, 2nd Place, Tribeca Film Festival 2012 | Audience Award, Best International Feature, Los Angeles Film Festival 2012 | Best Documentary, Moscow International Film Festival 2012 | Documentary Audience Choice Award, Durban International Film Festival 2012

Malik Bendjelloul
Sweden, Great Britain
School Film