No film swept this season’s early nonfiction awards from critics groups, but in recent weeks one documentary has picked up momentum from a number of industry groups. Is there still room for an upset in the race for Best Documentary Feature, or will it be a runaway victory?
“Sugar Man” is far out front with 3/2 odds overall. 22 out of 24 experts, eight out of nine editors, and 79% of users predict it will win.
The film, which tells the story of two South Africans searching for their musical hero, Rodriguez, has been awarded by BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, DGA, PGA, and WGA. It also won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival for World Documentaries.
This is the first Oscar nomination for director Malik Bendjelloul. Producer Simon Chinn previously won this category for “Man on Wire” (2008).
Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Searching for Sugar Man have scooped the top screenplay honours from the Writers Guild of America.
In addition, Searching for Sugar Man saw Malik Bendjelloul win for best documentary screenplay.
The story about the hunt for enigmatic US musician Rodriguez beat competition from The Central Park Five, The Invisible War, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, We Are Legion: the Story of the Hacktivists and West of Memphis.
Our 2013 headliner is Sixto Diaz Rodriguez aka Rodriguez, a Detroit-born singer-songwriter whose story is told in the film Searching for Sugar Man. Despite a lack of critical acclaim in the U.S., Rodriguez unknowingly became a star in South Africa. The film tells the story of how South African fans tracked him down in Detroit. It played at the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival and has won awards across the country and world.
The man is here tonight, the music is incredible.
~David Letterman welcoming Rodriguez to Late Night with David Letterman (view video)
“The reissue of the year is the soundtrack to one of the most compelling music documentaries ever made, about a comeback so improbable it seems like fiction.”
~Rolling Stone magazine on selecting Searching for Sugar Man as reissue of the year.
Malik Bendjelloul spent four years “Searching for Sugar Man” and that quest to find the reclusive singer/songwriter Rodriguez has brought him to the Oscars.
His film picked up the Producers Guild prize as Best Documentary and just won him Best Documentary Director at the DGA Awards. It also took top honors with the Critics’ Choice Awards, International Documentary Assn. and the National Board of Review. In the coming weeks, he contends at both the WGA and ACE Eddie awards as well.
No surprise then that “Searching for Sugar Man” is the frontrunner to win Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Nineteen of our 23 experts as well as three-quarters of our editors and users are predicting it to prevail.
So history was made. Last night the Directors Guild Awards were held in Los Angeles, announcing the winner of their 65th Annual Awards. The DGA chose from nominees including Bigelow, Hooper, Lee and Spielberg (but not Tarantino or Zeitlin) to give the top honor to Ben Affleck, director of Argo. Damn! In addition to Affleck, they also chose Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man as Best Documentary, Jay Roach’s Game Change as Best TV Movie, and Looper director Rian Johnson for his “Breaking Bad” episode. Affleck admitted: “I don’t think this makes me a real director. But I think it means I’m on my way.”
The other nominees for the 2013 Directors Guild Awards include: Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Les Misérables, Ang Lee for Life of Pi plus Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.
“Searching for Sugar Man” is the Oscar-nominated documentary that tells the unbelievable true story of a famous musician who had no idea he was famous! On today’s show, Jeff uncovers the compelling story of folk singer Rodriguez when he talks to Malik Bendjelloul, the film’s director, and Rodriguez himself. Check it out in this video!
The documentary Searching for Sugar Man won its latest prize yesterday (January 26), taking home the best documentary award at the 24th annual Producers Guild Awards.
Malik Bendjelloul’s film, produced by Man on Wire‘s Simon Chinn, has taken the award for outstanding producer of documentary theatrical motion pictures, the latest trophy for the doc, which recently won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for best documentary.
Searching for Sugar Man has also won the Best Documentary prizes from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, as well as the award for Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation from the Cinema Eye Honors, and two prizes from Dutch fest IDFA.
Searching for Sugarman, Malik Bendjelloul’s film about the reception of Sixto Rodriguez in South Africa, continues to accumulate awards, critical acclaim and commercial success as its momentum gathers in the lead up to the Academy Awards at the end of next month. It is carrying Rodriguez, seventy years old and partially blind, onto the stages of the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall, festivals like Glastonbury, Coachella and Primavera and into the pages of the world’s great newspapers. Next month he’ll be playing Cape Town and Johannesburg again.
The film is exquisite and the story that it weaves between Cape Town and Detroit is remarkable and moving. There’s always something slightly magical about how an intense engagement with a particular situation can find an entirely unexpected resonance across space and time. And the enthusiasm of the South African fans who, to their astonishment, found Rodriguez alive and living the life of a poor man in the ruins of downtown Detroit and were then able to bring him to a rapturous welcome in Cape Town is infectious.
The story at the heart of the film, the redemptive return of a hero, is an ancient one. But this particular telling of that story draws its power from the kind of man that the hero proves to be. In his first single, I’ll Slip Away, released in 1967 under a version of his name mangled by a record company that thought it commercially expedient to disguise his Mexican origins, he declared that “You can keep your symbols of success” and “I’m not choosing to be like them.” And from the beginning Rodriguez tried to make his way and to define success on his own terms. At an event to market himself to the record industry suits in Los Angeles in 1970 he gave the stage to the Brown Berets, militant Chicano activists. These kinds of choices may keep one’s soul intact but they don’t do much for one’s career.
A love story is developing between the French and Rodriguez, the Detroit-born musician who flopped in the 1970s, was a star without knowing it in apartheid South Africa and was rediscovered last summer in the United States when the documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” was released.
The film tells the extraordinary story of a talented and philosophical musician who spent his life working in construction while struggling to bring up his three daughters, and the mind-boggling mutual discoveries in 1997: for him, that he was more famous than the Rolling Stones in South Africa, and for South African fans (who believed him to be dead), that he was alive.
The Swedish-British film by Malik Bendjelloul which has made more than $3 million at the box office in the United States, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary category. In France the now-70-year-old Rodriguez has created something of a frenzy: The soundtrack album is among Sony France’s top sales on iTunes. Sony had planned on putting fewer than 3,000 CDs in stores, but after calls from vendors who sensed something was up, made 15,000 copies available.
The Oscar-nominated documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” tells the strange story of singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Back in the early 1970s, the record company had high hopes for him. With eminently hummable tunes and lyrics that eloquently spoke to life on the mean streets of Detroit, Rodriguez seemed poised to be the next Bob Dylan. But his two albums, “Cold Facts” and “Coming from Reality,” never really caught on in the United States. That would seem to be the end of the story, except, for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear, Rodriguez’s album did, unbeknownst to him, phenomenally well in South Africa. His songs proved to be the anthems of a generation of young South Africans who were increasingly frustrated by their government’s apartheid policies. While his albums were selling as well as “Abbey Road” in Cape Town, Rodriguez seemingly disappeared into obscurity.
“Searching for Sugar Man” also follows some hardcore South African fans, such as Steve “Sugar” Segerman, who grew fascinated by the mysterious origins of his favorite albums. Over many years, he eventually managed to track down the musician, who was living like a Zen monk in a rundown section of the Motor City.
I talked with the movie’s director, Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, a couple of weeks ago, just before the Oscar nominations were announced. He talked about discovering the strange story of Rodriguez and his own difficulties with getting the movie made, which included having to shoot part of the film on his iPhone. “Searching for Sugar Man” comes out this week on DVD.
One of Q’s films of 2012, Searching For Sugar Man recounted the heart-warming tale of singer-songwriter Rodriguez. A commercial flop when he released his music in the early 1970s, he became one of the biggest artists in South Africa… without him – or the outside world – knowing. With the documentary just released on DVD, director Malik Bandjellou explains how he became interested in Rodriguez’s story and why the internet age means it was probably rock and roll’s last great untold tale.
I was travelling around Africa with a camera looking for stories for Swedish television. I quit my job and just went on this trip. In Cape Town I met Sugar [fan and record shop owner Steve “Sugar” Segerman] and he told me the Rodriguez story, it was one of six I got from the trip. I went home and the story just stuck in my brain, the others didn’t, so I started to feel it could be something longer.
The whole thing was the South African experience made it unique. It was two stories: one was how South Africa was cut off from the word and this could happen; and the other was this beautiful resurrection. How they’re connected with each other for me was the story because it’s unlikely this kind of story could happen now. There was no internet, no medium to connect these two elements up. For that reason a story like this will probably never happen again.