Los Angeles – Just hours after receiving an Oscar nomination on Thursday, SA-filmed musical documentary Searching for Sugar Man won Best Documentary Feature at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.
The film, which is a UK/Sweden co-production, tells the story of Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez who, as portrayed in the film, became a source of hope and inspiration in apartheid South Africa before mysteriously disappearing.
Searching for Sugar Man follows South African music fans who set out to discover what exactly happened to their idol Rodriguez – who will be performing in South Africa in February.
On Thursday morning, “Searching for Sugar Man” director Malik Bendjelloul was still getting used to the reality of having made an Oscar-nominated film.
“It feels surrealistic, crazy. Oscar is, the word itself, it’s something you’ve heard about since you were a kid. It never occurred to be that it was something anyone ever achieved. I mean, I’m from Sweden. It’s completely crazy,” he told the Free Press from Los Angeles.
The documentary follows Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul’s quest to discover the story of 70s singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez.
Searching for Sugar Man, the acclaimed music documentary from Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul and one of the 15 titles on the 2013 Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary, has racked up an impressive $1 million in box office revenues in Scandinavia, according to local distributor NonStop Entertainment.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that 15 films in the ever-controversial Documentary Feature category will advance in the voting process for the 85th Academy Awards. A whopping 126 pictures had originally qualified in the category.
This list often stirs up considerable controversy, and there are definitely a few major omissions in “The Central Park Five,” “West of Memphis,” “Samsara,” “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” “Only The Young” and “The Queen of Versailles.” But overall one suspects this will be one of the most agreeable Oscar shortlists in some time.
If you don’t know the story of Rodriguez yet, then don’t read this – go and watch this year’s amazing documentary Searching for Sugar Man, then come back to us. For those who know the tale behind the man, you may still be in a sense of awe that he is here: one half a seventy-year-old man, slightly stooped and with failing eye sight; one half an absolute legend.
Sixto Rodriguez is playing his second major gig of the week in London at Royal Festival Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival, just a few days after taking to the stage at the Roundhouse. On first glance, the crowd seem wary of his weakness as he’s brought on stage by his daughter. But the rapturous applause, maybe the most noise the walls of this usually cautious venue has ever heard, seem to lift him. When the guitar, the shades and the hat go on, this slight man from Detroit, the son of Mexican immigrants who’s worked his fingers to the bone in manual labour most of his life, turns into the superstar he always was… even though he never knew it.
While he was long forgotten in the US, Rodriguez was unwittingly achieving mythical status in South Africa. Decades later, he tells Fiona Shepherd about fame after 40 years in the wilderness
IN THE internet age, it seems inconceivable that an artist could be unaware of their own success or that fans would have no idea if their favourite singer was alive or dead. Nowadays you have to work pretty hard to be an enigma and, conversely, even the most neglected musician would struggle to languish in complete obscurity.
Which makes the tale of a Detroit protest singer who scraped a living in the United States while his music was providing hope to tens of thousands in apartheid-era South Africa sound all the more romantic. “It’s been described as a rock’n’roll fairytale,” says the protagonist, one Sixto Diaz Rodriguez.
The Searching for Sugar Man juggernaut rolls on as Malik Bendjelloul’s sleeper hit about the unlikely resurrection of singer-songwriter Rodriguez copped the jury prize for Best International Documentary at the 10th Beefeater In-Edit music documentary festival in Barcelona.
The awards were presented Saturday on the penultimate night of In-Edit, which drew around-the-block queues for dozens of new and vintage music films for 10 nights in the Catalan capital’s university district. It’s the eighth festival to honor Sugar Man since its Audience Award-winning breakout at Sundance in January. Released theatrically in July by Sony Pictures Classics, the film has also done $2.2 million in box office as of late October – pretty serious numbers for a music documentary, especially one about an obscure bard whose two early ’70s albums sank without a trace in his US homeland but became massive hits in South Africa. (For a bit of context, that’s $800,000 than Marley has taken in.)
Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, mysterious 1970s folk rocker, Rodriguez. Malik Bendjelloul’s acclaimed documentary premiered at the Sundance film festival, where it won two awards, opened last week’s Sheffield DocFest, went down a storm at this week’s Los Angeles film festival and opens in the UK on 27 July – The Guardian
Despite coming from Detroit, chances are you’ve never heard of rock musician Rodriguez, especially if you’re from the US. The 1970′s Mexican-American folk rocker has become an icon in South Africa and other places around the world and a new documentary from Malik Bendjelloul explores the obscure life of this man. Winning the audience and grand prize awards for documentary at Sundance this year, Searching For Sugar Man has gotten nearly unanimous rave reviews and the first trailer has arrived today. While we all love documentaries on our favorite musicians, I also adore ones that bring one into an entire world you never knew existed, and this looks to fall into that category, with some twists to boot. Check it out below. – John Cunliffe