OSCARS: Documentary Unveils Cult Musician
'Searching for Sugar Man' explores the life and work of Sixto Rodriguez. It's nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar.
This week, I thought I would review one of two Oscar-nominated documentaries I saw recently: Searching for Sugar Man. Will it win on Oscar Night, February 24, 2013? We will just have to wait and see.
Searching for Sugar Man is the quest for the musical artist from the 1970s that I had never heard of. But, apparently, I am not alone. As a matter of fact, most of the world has never heard of the musician Sixto Rodriguez….EXCEPT, apparently, for South Africa, where he is, was and still is a big cult sensation.
Having released only two albums in the early 1970s, Rodriguez remained a man of mystery to those who loved him all over South Africa until some impressive, dogged research by some music fans finally uncovered the mystery.
This documentary tells the story of not only Rodriguez’s musical journey, but the journey of others who have been trying to find out what happened to him since the 1970s. Interviews span the gamut from those in the American music business who worked with Rodriguez in the 1970s, to South Africans who still remain passionate about his music, as well as interviews with Rodriguez himself and some of his family members.
Not being a music critic, I wasn’t sure I would get much out of Sugar Man. But, the message here is much less about the music per se and even less about the mystique and legend of the man. It is about the illusion and the illusiveness of fame and success. Though not as powerful as some documentaries out there, Sugar Man is a true example of excellent documentary filmmaking.
Searching for Sugar Man: 2012, PG-13, 86 minutes, directed by Malik Bendjelloul. Nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar, won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Documentary award, the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary, the National Board of Review’s NBR Award for Best Documentary, as well as winning the Audience and Special Jury Prize awards for World Cinema: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.