This documentary recounts the search for Detroit based folk singer Sixto Rodriguez by South African record shop owner Stephen Segerman and music journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom. Rodriguez had released a couple of albums in the USA in the early 1970’s, but because of his reticence had not gained a following, despite the popularity of protest songs at that time. Consequently Rodriguez disappeared from the American music scene. However, unbeknownst to him, the young Mexican’s songs found him a committed following amongst liberal thinking, anti-apartheid campaigners in South Africa… ” … the end is happy without being triumphalist. This modest, talented man didn’t become a star and has been turned into one by rediscovery. But he seems to have had a fulfilling life in one of America’s least welcoming rust-belt cities” – Philip French, The Observer. (Cert 12A)
Dir: Malik Benjelloul 86 mins Sweden/ UK 2012
Preceded by Annual General Meeting at 7.30 p.m.
Searching for Sugar Man
Sweden/ UK, 2012, 86 mins, Cert 12A
Searching for Sugar Man focuses on the Detroit-based folk singer, Sixto Rodriguez, who had a brief pop music career in the early 1970s. However, despite the lack of success in the USA, his music gained a huge cult following during the Apartheid era in South Africa.
This music documentary follows two fans of Rodriguez’s music to find the singer, and in doing so answer some of the many myths surrounding the singer. Did he die in an apparent suicide on stage? Was he aware of the success of his music in South Africa? The film answers many questions that have been puzzling fans of Rodriguez for many years.
The film was an ambitious project for the former Swedish child-actor, Malik Bendjelloul. He envisioned using a 3D-animated sequence, using some illustrations he traced onto over paper as the mock-up for the sequence. Whilst the final film features animation from the Swedish studio (Filmtecknarna), the 3D sequence was never completed.
Searching for Sugar Man was showered with awards, including a BAFTA, and an Oscar, for Best Documentary. The film did really well at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, taking home an Audience Award, and a Special Jury Prize.
Record Shop Owner – Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman
Bartender, The Brewery – Dan DiMaggio
Musician – Willem Möller
Music Journalist – Craig Bartholomew Strydom
Former Apartheid Archivist – Ilse Assmann
Teal Trutone – Steve M. Harris
Director – Malik Bendjelloul
Screenplay – Malik Bendjelloul
Cinematography – Camilla Skagerström
Editor – Malik Bendjelloul
Producers – Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn
“A musical detective story, this enthralling documentary focuses on a little-known American musician whose haunting voice and poetic lyrics were essentially unknown in his own country, but had a massive impact across the globe.” Claudia Puig, USA Today
“Searching has emotional valleys and zeniths, and gasp-inducing turns, as old friends, fans and Rodriguez’s grown daughters are interviewed.” Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
“The information they eventually dislodge about Rodriguez suggests a secular saint, a deeply good man, whose music is the expression of a blessed inner being. I hope you’re able to see this film. You deserve to. And yes, it exists because we need for it to.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“It starts as a bittersweet parable about the cruelty of commerce, but the wonder of Searching for Sugar Man will not soon slip away.” Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“The truth-is-stranger-than-fiction saga has been a hit on the festival circuit, winning top documentary prizes at Sundance for Sweden’s Bendjelloul. What sets Searching for Sugar Man apart, though, is the way in which the filmmaker preserves a sense of mystery in the telling.” Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
“A treat to see this film again”
“Pete Seeger, Donovan, Bob Dylan we had in the 60s. Rodriguez we didn’t – a tragedy. What a superb film – the best documentary we have had.”
“Great story, well told with beautiful photography and images. The integration of sound and art was top notch!”
“Great story and what a singer!”
“Extra-ordinary story about a very humble man. Amazing lyrics.”
“A great story, very well told. Genuinely hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck-raising.”
“Really liked this film – a heart-warming story.”
“Remarkable – I enjoyed it.”
“Very sensitively done.”
“Better than I expected. Good music.”
“The film was a really good way to get into Rodriguez’s music. However, it lost its novelty through repetition. I felt it was part greatest hits album, part mystery-solved-halfway-through.”
“Struggled to be visual enough for a film.”
“Rodriguez’s songs were good and he was good man (who could doubt it?) but much of the adulation was repetitious and vacuous. There was no sign that the yapping heads understood Rodriguez the person. A superficial film.”
“A remarkable story with some good photography but, in reality, Rodriguez’s music wasn’t that good. A [illegible] and built up through hype! Let’s hope for some better documentary-style films than this. How it got a BAFTA award and an Oscar, only Sugarman knows!”