“Searching for Sugar Man” is the recently made documentary that is quickly gaining popularity and recognition for its almost unbelievably inspiring story.
The documentary, directed by Malik Bendjelloul, is increasing momentum in the United States, since its release in July 2012 in the United Kingdom. Adding to the hype, “Searching for Sugar Man” recently won an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
One of my favorite pastimes is treating the Oscars like a sporting event. Since I do not follow actual sports, my enthusiasm for the Oscars is quite aggressive. Each year I normally scour the Internet for the trailers for each of the nominated films. Therefore, I was already excited to see “Searching for Sugar Man” and to expose myself to another artist besides Ludacris.
The documentary is the amazing story of Sixto Rodriguez, a forgotten 70s singer/songwriter who never quite reached success in the U.S. However, unknown to even Rodriguez, his records reached South Africa during the apartheid years and quickly became iconic. The film follows two South African fans as they lead an investigation to find out what happened to the artist who greatly influenced their lives.
The mystery surrounding Rodriguez is one of the most incredible true stories that I have ever heard. However, most people turn away from documentaries for fear of boredom and lack of story telling. Far from boring, this film chronicles the investigation of what happened to Rodriguez in an easy-to-watch and perfectly crafted way that will satisfy even the most picky audience.
The story speaks for itself, but the director did a wonderful job creating a documentary that compliments and enhances the aura of mystery surrounding the story. The film is peppered with animated additions, incredible South African landscapes and just enough historical facts, which keep the documentary from becoming a dull and simple recalling of a story.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of the documentary was the many Rodriguez. The accounts are moving and create an almost mystical allure around the singer heightening the suspense. The interviews also give insight into the working class, the music industry and the struggles of South Africa in the 1970s.
The music is incredible. There is no other way to put how talented Rodriguez was as a songwriter. The fact his records were not a success in the United States raises questions on what exactly is needed to make an artist successful. Rodriguez’s songs were so powerful they became an inspirational phenomenon for the people of South Africa to stand up to their government. His music is undeniably good, as is the soundtrack to the entire film, which allows the viewer to appreciate his work.
I would classify the documentary as a feel-good film that could easily reach any viewer. The story is larger than life and by the end it is difficult to not feel energized. Raising important questions about what it means to be successful, finding happiness and a passion in life, the film encompasses many important aspects that define the human experience. Audiences will be moved by the story and probably immediately head to iTunes to get their hands on the soundtrack.