Searching for Sugar Man is a modern Cinderella story. Why Cinderella? Wikipedia defines the word "Cinderella" as, "by analogy, ...one whose attributes were unrecognized, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect." In comes an American named Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit based unknown musician, whose career in the early 1970s proved to be short lived with two albums that hardly sold in the USA. Unbeknown to him, his music became very successful and much influential in South Africa. Fast forward to the 1990s, when two determined South African fans, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, manage to track Rodriguez down, a task not made easy given Rodriguez' obscurity. Searching for Sugar Man tells that story; the story of a search, of a journey that changed lives forever, and that is its charm.
This Swedish–British documentary was written, directed and produced by Malik Bendjelloul, a young filmmaker who unfortunately ended his life two years after the movie’s completion; a result of a struggle with depression.
Malik’s choices in telling the story proved wise, focusing on the search rather than on the musician himself. It enabled Malik to create suspense and, though omitting from the story some important background facts, such as that Rodriguez was also very successful in Australia in the 1970s and became aware of it, touring the Down Under extensively in 1979 and 1981, the plot as presented, leaves one inspired. Rodriguez himself remains somewhat of a mystery, and that too works well within the context of the film. He is a person who appears at ease on stage, yet seems disinterested in money and fame; a construction worker who speaks a language that connects people in different continents, facing diverse life challenges.
Searching for Sugar Man won a host of awards including the 2012 Oscar for Best Documentary. Rodriguez declined to attend the event as he didn't want to overshadow the filmmakers' achievement if he came up on stage with them.
How can one not fall in love?