By Hussain Currimbhoy 16 June, 2012
With Doc/Fest now slowly and sadly drawing to a close, I feel that a huge highlight for me was the incredibly moving production SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, directed by Malik Bendjelloul.
I was astounded to find out just before the movie showed that it was the directors first ever film and my mind continued to wonder how on earth he had managed this masterpiece as I sat through his eighty-five minutes of genius.
This beautifully crafted film tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez whose musical talent was discovered by producers as he wandered the streets of Detroit, USA in the late 1960s. His amazing ability to compose amazing songs with deep, poetic lyrics were, however, not given the credit he deserved and Rodriguez returned to work as a labourer.
Unbeknown to both Rodriguez and his musical collegues, he became a huge success in South Africa with claims that he was bigger than Bob Dylan and even Elvis. After selling over half a million copies of his album there, Cold Fact, a few of his greatest fans started a search to find out more about this mystery man that had become a legend in their country.
This screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest was made even more special by the appearance of Sixto Rodriguez himself, who was welcomed by a standing ovation as he walked onto the stage. The audience were itching to pose their questions to the musical genius and he was showered with praise and statements like 'his music helped a certain someone in the audience get lucky' which certainly entertained him.
Both the film and the Q&A afterwards certainly got the crowd wondering how this incredible artist seemed such a flop in America but I certainly believe that his huge success in other countries just means that the USA are totally missing out!
[Lily Phillips is sitting on this year's Youth Jury.]