“Searching for Sugar Man” is a documentary and music film from 2012. The film follows an amazing story about Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, one of the greatest rock icons of the 1970s.
The film reveals the incredible secret and touching story of a guitarist who was a folk singer from Detroit. He had a short career with only two well-received but unsold albums.
In the late 1960s, two famous producers from South Africa discovered him in a Detroit bar. He touched them with his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics. They recorded an album that they believed would secure him the reputation of one of the best artists of his generation.
Despite numerous positive reviews, the album failed, and the singer went into oblivion. There were rumors that he had committed suicide on stage. Piracy found its way to South Africa and over the next two decades, it became a real hit.
Rodriguez was so good that without fame or a large fan base he signed a contract for two albums with Sussex Records and A&M Records. His debut album called “Cold Fact” received a rare four-star review from Billboard. His second album, “Coming from Reality” was not sold well, so the contract was canceled and it seems that the story ended there.
Since then, nothing else was heard from Rodriguez. Although Rodríguez did not find an audience in America, the audience in South Africa found Rodríguez.
Long story short
A few years later, his albums traveled halfway around the world, to Cape Town, South Africa. Where illegal copies were passed from hand to hand, and his songs became the anthems of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
What is not possible in one dimension is realized in another. It is not known how the copy of Rodriguez’s debut album arrived in South Africa. Leaving behind a world of unfulfilled possibilities, “Cold Fact” plunged into a world of almost impossible achievements.
When they were started by the owner of an independent record store named Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, they took off, the first to sell 500,000 copies, which would be like the Beatles or Elvis Presley in South Africa.
This documentary by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul travels between Detroit and Cape Town. Talking to influential South Africans like Rian Malan about the influence Rodriguez had at the time.
The rise of the Internet made it easier for Segerman to search for his best-selling star (whose royalties went to A&M Records). Segerman himself began to be called ‘Sugar’, according to the title of one of Rodriguez’s songs. The audience in South Africa welcomed their hero, who received recognition after 25-years.
The film was recorded for about three months, but it took four long years to be complete. Unlike other documentaries, “Searching for Sugar Man” is not just a collection of testimonies but a collage of cities, narratives, and intimate confessions.
The film is from 2012 and is lasts 86-minutes. The director and screenwriter were the late Malik Bendjelloul. “Searching for Sugar Man” also received numerous awards, including the BAFTA Film Award in 2013, as well as the Oscar in 2013 for Best Documentary Film.