Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Monday, 10. December 2012

Searching for Sugar Man
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Part of: Viennale

Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary about the search for Sixto Rodriguez, an USAmerican musician most known for Sugar Man, though never actually successful. He had two albums in the beginning of the 70s before he disappeared into obscurity again. But even during the height of his popularity, little was known about him. For some reason, he achieved quite a fanbase in South Africa and the people there wanted to know more about him – especially since they heard various stories about his pretty gruesome suicide on stage.

Searching for Sugar Man is a wonderful film. They found the right story to tell in the perfect way. No matter whether you like or even heard of Sixto Rodriguez, you should absolutely watch it.

I think that you might be able to get most out of the film if you don’t actually know anything about it or Rodriguez. But even if you go into it like me – knowing the story at least a little bit – you get a whole damn lot out of it, too. Bendjelloul has structured the whole thing so that you can get the emotional pay-off either way. I cried several times.

And not only does he tell Rodriguez’s story well (even if he does get a bit hyperbolic sometimes – like when it is basically stated that Sixto’s music single-handedly caused the beginning of the end of Apartheid, at least for white musicians), it is a frankly astonishing and extremely interesting story to tell. It’s about time somebody told it.

But it’s not only the subject that makes this movie work. The music is wonderful and Rodriguez has great lyrics. I basically only knew Sugar Man before seeing this film, but meanwhile I caught up with the rest – and I can only recommend it.

And if all of that hadn’t been enough for an engaging film, the camera work and cinematography is absolutely astonishing. Especially when it comes to capturing Detroit, Camilla Skagerström‘s work is a thing of beauty.

Summarising: I can’t recommend it enough.

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