Release date: July 27, 2012 (ltd)
Written, Edited and Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul
Featuring: Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, Malik Bendjelloul
Running Time: 86 minutes
What happens when a singer/songwriter, living in relative obscurity for over forty years, discovers that he was an overnight sensation, his records having turned platinum … decades ago? In this instance, given the musician’s zen-like acceptance of life as it happens … nothing. Oh, he may do a few concerts to sell-out crowds of thousands in South Africa – where he’s as beloved in that country as Elvis Presley is in America – but as Sixto Diaz Rodriguez says about his longtime day job as a construction laborer in Detroit, “Well, you never throw away your work clothes.”
Like Rodriguez’ many different tunes, Searching for Sugar Man looks at multiple scenarios. Other than the initial story of the hunt for the musician in the late ’90s by two determined fans (record store owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and journalist Craig Bartholomew-Strydom), first-time feature documentarian Malik Bendjelloul examines the effect of Rodriguez’ music in the early ’70s on the young liberal populace of South Africa, who were inspired by the singer/songwriter’s exhortations to question authority. And they did just that, protesting the South African government’s policy of apartheid. Per Segerman, “To many of us South Africans, he was the soundtrack to our lives.” While this kind of high-profile celebrity disappearance would never happen in our media-savvy age, between South Africa’s isolation as well as Rodriguez’ – who didn’t own a telephone – it’s an understandable anomaly. What can’t be explained, however, is how a record company allegedly never tracked profits from the two albums that went platinum (1970′s “Cold Fact” and 1971′s “Coming From Reality” ), and Rodriguez’ estate never saw a dime. Supposedly, there will now be some royalties for the musician going forward.
And just who is this musical prophet of the counterculture era? [For the full review and Kimberly's rating, please click here]