‘Searching For Sugarman’ is a touching film about hope, inspiration and the inspiring power of music. Certainly one of the most impressive documentaries during the IDFA festival in Amsterdam this year. And the winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival of 2012.

The search for the so-called ‘sugar man’ -named after one of his songs- Rodriguez, an American artist, was initiated by two South African fanatics who were on a quest for the man who was believed to have died while on stage. Was the singer whose legacy is a national part of  South African culture still alive?

In 1970, the progressive class of South Africa came by his socially critical songs for the first time in touch with the concept of ‘ anti-establishment ‘ and his music provides the soundtrack for the protest generation. Some of the songs on the album ‘Cold Fact’ were banned by Apartheid’s censor board from radio-play. Even without this important support his name & fame spread through the Union like wildfire.

Although an estimated half a million of his albums were sold in South Africa, Rodriguez remained a mystery. Very little was known of his origins, backgrounds and his music. According to tradition he died during a performance in the USA before the eyes of his audience when he shot himself.

Although he now is considered one of the greatest talents of his generation, it is true that he ended his music career as a misunderstood artist – without an inkling of the extent of his popularity in a very different part of the world. Twenty-five years later on a record dealer from Cape Town and a South African music journalist begin to unravel the puzzles surrounding Rodriguez. The reconstruction of this quest can be read as an exciting detective story, which takes us from Cape Town to Detroit and all over the world.

It is lovingly filmed and recorded, the beauty of Rodriguez lyrics and vocal performance touches all senses. His poetry and music overwhelms and is coming clearly from a totally unique talented singer. A streetwise beat-poet who we are finally able to meet, a gentleman whose modesty and character is exemplary and engaging.

But most of all, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ is an uplifting, powerful story about hope, inspiration and the inspiring power of music. Go and see this film…

Searching for Sugar Man
by Malik Bendjelloul, Sweden / Engeland, 2012, 82′.00″

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