Searching for Sugar Man
D: Malik Bendjelloul , SE/GB/FI 2012, 83 min, Engl. OV
Oscar-winning documentary about the Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez, who became a legend in apartheid South Africa.
In 1970 and ’71 Sixto Rodriguez records two LPs in the US that are not selling well there. Rodriguez gets ripped off by his record company, eventually gives up music and makes his living as a construction worker. But copies of his albums reach South Africa where the singer and songwriter becomes a star; his music becomes a soundtrack of the anti-apartheid movement. Legends surround his death until two fans head from Cape Town for Detroit searching for clues about their idol. Malik Benjelloul’s Oscar-winning documentary traces the fans’ journey and a musician’s career that is as unlikely as it is touching – and at the same time deeply significant for a time marked not only by transnational digital networking, but by nostalgic consumerism and a traveling drive for (re-)discovery.