Searching for Sugar Man | Malik Bendjellou | Sweden, United Kingdom | 2012 | 85min
Many attempts have been made to dramatise the incredible shift in global consciousness that came about when the Internet started performing its magic in the mid-90s; when we discovered ourselves across time and space and realised that we were seeing ourselves in each other’s songs; when fiction was replaced by facts that were better than fiction. Few of these attempts can match the true story of an artifact that lost contact with its mothership and was orphaned on a distant planet where it stirred and amused the locals and provoked fantasies about its unknown origin until a technology was devised that would open a line of contact with its creator and reconcile imagination with reality.
Distilled as such, Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man (2012) is a documentary about our addiction to stories and the deep satisfaction that narrative patterns and peculiarities provide. The music of Rodriguez forms the tingling spine of the film but its overarching genius lies in the fact that Sixto Rodriguez is the “MacGuffin” of his own tale and has little to add when the yarn finally catches up with him. Rodriguez occupies the eye of a storm of intrigue, commentary and enquiry and then lopes through the Detroit snow with his mystery as intact as the crystal-ball apparition on the cover of Cold Fact.
Searching for Sugar Man is a beautifully crafted and emotionally evocative addition to Rodriguez lore and one that, given its success at Sundance 2012, seems set to finally and deservedly embed Cold Fact and Coming from Reality (released on CD in the US for the first time in 2008/09) in the consciousness of his homeland. In addition to introducing the songwriter’s three daughters, the film features Detroit and London collaborators as well as Cape Town’s Stephen Segerman, Mabu Vinyl purveyor of sonic delights and a key cog in the strange mechanism that brought Rodriguez back from the dead and onto a stage in Belleville in 1998.
Searching for Sugar Man is currently screening at the Durban International Film Festival 2012:
- Friday 20 July 2012, 18:00pm – Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Musgrave B
- Sunday 29 July 2012, 18:00pm – Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Musgrave B