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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 22 October 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"Searching for Sugar Man" is a Swedish/British documentary directed by Malik Bendjelloul. It describes the efforts of two fans, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to discover the truth behind the fate of 1970's American musician Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is an enigmatic figure. Early on he is described as playing a gig in a smoke filled room, in the fog shrouded streets of downtown Detroit, with his back to the audience the entire time. All the better, it would seem, for his voice, his music, to speak for itself. Spotted by a producer, efforts are made to promote his music. Promoters and producers are convinced they have found a singer who out Dylan's Dylan, a phenomenal new voice. But his first album, Cold Fact," does not take root in the popular imagination of 70's America, and it flops. A second album fares no better. Few people have heard of Rodriguez, or want to hear from him.
Then, he disappears from view. Meanwhile, in the height of the Apartheid repression of South Africa, a parallel story develops, with Rodriguez's music giving expression to the anti-establishment mood in large swathes of South African youth, and becoming as big as the Beatles. Everyone has his album in their record collection. He is massive there, the voice of their generation, given them permission and a musical freedom to explore their desire for a better society.
Then the rumors of his death begin. He has shot himself on stage when it becomes apparent his concert is not working, says one. No, he set himself on fire in front of his audience, says another. This Kurtz like figure, with his huge following, is a mystery demanding to be solved. In some album notes, the cry goes up for a "music detective," and Segerman and Strydom answer the call and get to work.
What they find is a truth no-one guessed at, something that is as delightful a rug pull for us as it must have been for them, and everything changes. I won't spoil it here, but what we find is the exact opposite to the X Factor idea of celebrity. We discover an indifference to it, and a desire to live in the moment and be useful, that will have the Simon Cowell brigade scratching their heads.
The film is beautifully shot and has a mesmeric use of animation, cityscape, archive footage and music. It excites the imagination and my guess is that it will send loads of people to I- Tunes to seek out the music. Well worth your time.
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