Sugar Man’ Director Malik Bendjelloul committed suicide

Sixto Diaz Riodriquez

Malik Bendjelloul  Sorry,sorry……………. Sorrow

Swedish Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjellou died in Stockholm on May 13, 2014, at the age of 36. Bendjelloul’s movie ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. (Anders Wiklund / Getty Images)

Stockholm — Malik Bendjelloul, the Swedish director of the acclaimed “Searching for Sugar Man” documentary, was widely known for his enthusiasm, kindness and high spirits — so the news Wednesday that he had taken his own life shocked colleagues around the world.

Bendjelloul’s brother Johar Bendjelloul confirmed to the Associated Press that his 36-year-old younger brother committed suicide Tuesday. He told daily Aftonbladet that his brother had struggled with depression for a short period.

“Life is not always simple,” Johar Bendjelloul was quoted as saying, adding that receiving the message that his brother had committed suicide was the worst thing he had ever experienced.

“I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t know,” he said.

Police would not comment on the cause of death but said they suspected no foul play.

Bendjelloul rose to international fame in 2013 when his debut feature film, “Searching for Sugar Man,” won an Oscar for best documentary. The film tells the story of Detroit-based singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who had flopped in the United States but became a superstar in apartheid-era South Africa without even knowing about it.

“He made a great film and will be missed,” U.S. documentary film maker Michael Moore wrote on Twitter.

British film producer Simon Chinn, who produced “Searching for Sugar Man,” said he was shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his friend’s passing.

“It seems so unbelievable,” Chinn told the AP over the telephone. “He had everything to live for.”

Chinn said he saw Bendjelloul only two weeks ago in London.

“He was so full of life, hope and optimism and happiness, and looking forward to the future and future collaborations,” he said. “The idea that he is no longer is just too hard to process.”

The soft-spoken Bendjelloul worked as a reporter for Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT before resigning to backpack around the world. He got the idea for “Searching for Sugar Man” during one of his trips, but it would take him more than four years to complete the film.

He reached out to Chinn when the film was 90 percent finished, but his main sponsor had withdrawn support, saying the film was lousy.

“He just kind of came in with his bounce of enthusiasm and charm and smiling eyes and I was completely won over by him,” Chinn recalled Wednesday.

“He had found this amazing story and was completely determined to do it justice,” he said. “The fact that no one else believed in it didn’t seem to deter him, he just kind of pursued it with incredible passion and tenacity that I hadn’t really ever seen before in a filmmaker.”

SVT’s culture chief Eva Beckman said Bendjelloul’s death was incomprehensible and praised his strong storytelling skills and his willingness to experiment with new formats.

“What really set him apart from everybody else was his passion for storytelling. He was a fantastic storyteller,” she said.

In “Searching for Sugar Man,” Bendjelloul detailed how Rodriguez had developed a cult following among white liberals in South Africa who were inspired by his songs protesting the Vietnam War, racial inequality, the abuse of women and social mores.

They came to believe that Rodriguez had died a bitter death, but it wasn’t until after the end of apartheid and the advent of the Internet that they realized he was alive. The film followed the quest of Cape Town record store owner Stephen Segerman and journalist Carl Bartholomew-Strydom as they set out to determine Rodriguez’s fate. They found him living in obscurity and working on construction sites in Detroit, and brought him to South Africa for a triumphant concert tour.

Segerman said Wednesday it was difficult to accept the death of Bendjelloul, who he said was a “really, really lovely, charming human being” who appeared happy.

“He was like Tintin,” Segerman said, comparing the filmmaker to the globe-trotting character from Herge’s comic books.

He praised Bendjelloul’s ability to persuade people, including the reclusive Rodriguez, to talk to him for his documentary.

The film’s Oscar win led to a career rebirth for Rodriguez, who has been touring major venues in the U.S. and introducing American audiences to the songs he wrote four decades ago.

He was performing Tuesday night in Detroit, but his manager said he wouldn’t be commenting on Bendjelloul’s death.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140514/ENT09/305140040#ixzz31obKDhPcIn 2012, the Sundance Film Festival hosted the premiere of the documentary film Searching for Sugar Man, by Swedish directorMalik Bendjelloul, detailing the efforts of two South African fans to see if his rumored death was true—and if not, to discover what had become of him. The documentary, produced by Simon Chinn and John Battsek, went on to win the World Cinema Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award, World Cinema Documentary.

In addition to playing at other films festivals including the True/False Film Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival, the film opened in New York and Los Angeles on July 27, 2012, before a larger domestic cinematic run.[21] It was also screened as part of cinema programs in some European music festivals during the summer of 2012, including the Way Out West festival in August, where Rodriguez also performed. In November it won both the Audience Award and the Best Music Documentary Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.[22]

The Searching for Sugar Man soundtrack features a compilation of Rodriguez tracks from his albums Cold Fact and Coming from Reality, in addition to a previously unreleased single from his third album. The album was released on July 24, 2012.To allay possible concerns raised in the film about how Rodriguez was apparently cheated by his previous record label, the back cover bears the statement, “Rodriguez receives royalties from the sale of this release.”

Searching for Sugar Man won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary on February 10, 2013.

On January 13, 2013, Searching for Sugar Man was nominated for and, on February 24, 2013, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards.[25] Rodriguez declined to attend the award ceremony as he did not want to overshadow the filmmakers’ achievement.[26] Upon accepting his award, Chinn remarked on such generosity, “That just about says everything about that man and his story that you want to know.” Malik Bendjelloul also said on stage, “Thanks to one of the greatest singers ever, Rodriguez.”

 

 

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (also known as just Rodríguez or as Jesús Rodríguez; born July 10, 1942) is an American folk musician in DetroitMichigan. His career initially proved short lived, with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s and twoAustralian concert tours. Unknown to him, however, his work became extremely successful and influential in South Africa, and continued to retain a loyal following in Australia. At one time[when?] he was arguably more famous than Elvis Presley in South Africa[citation needed], though he was mistakenly rumored there to have committed suicide.

In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to find and contact him, which led to an unexpected revival of his musical career. This is told in the 2012 Academy Award–winning documentary film Searching for Sugar Man, which helped give Rodriguez a measure of fame in his home country.

On May 9, 2013, Rodriguez received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his alma mater, Wayne State University (WSU), in Detroit.

Rodriguez lives in Detroit’s historic Woodbridge neighborhood, which he is seen walking through in Searching for Sugar Man.

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