Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Searching for Sugar Man - A BAFTA win and probably an Oscar

There is another film surging out of the BAFTA Awards to what seems to be an inevitable Oscar – Searching for Sugar man. Sugar Man won the BAFTA award for documentary on Sunday. This coming on the heels of wins at the PGA Awards, the DGA Awards, the International Documentary Association Awards and the Critic’s Choice Awards. It has also been nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award, but winners will not be announced until next Monday.

Searching for Sugar Man is a Swedish/British production directed by Malik Bendjelloul. It deals with a search or really an investigation by two South Africans, Stephen Segerman (called Sugarman by friends) and music journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out what happened to Rodriguez, an American Folk Singer from the early 70s: did he really die by committing suicide on stage? The tone of his songs was often bleak (he was living in Detroit and the times were bleak) and so some of those who heard them could easily believe that he would commit suicide.

Rodriguez was a somewhat mysterious singer/songwriter who produced two albums, one in 1970 and another in 1971 and then disappeared. Saying, he disappeared is almost a misstatement. His albums did not sell in the United States and he was basically unknown. The albums were released by Sussex Records (now out of business) and in December of 1971, they dropped him – two weeks before Christmas.

However, through a strange set of circumstances (and without him knowing it) he developed a huge fan base in South Africa – including Segerman who decided he wanted to find out what had actually happened to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is Sixto Rodriguez, who still lives and works (construction) in Detroit. The documentary has resurrected his career as a musician.

Searching for Sugarman screened at the 2012 Starz Denver Film Festival.

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