“Searching for Sugar Man,” Story of Musician Sixto Rodriguez, Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

Sixto Rodriguez: The Powerful Music of a Deeply Good Man

Searching for Sugar Man found an Oscar on Sunday night. The film, which traces the strange, almost unbelievable tale of Detroit folk musician Sixto Rodriguez from obscurity to international success, largely without his knowing, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film at Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards. Rodriguez, 70, was not at the ceremony, “because he didn’t want to take any of the credit himself,” producer Simon Chinn explained from the Oscar stage while accepting the award. “And that just about says everything about that man and his story that you want to know.”

Searching for Sugar Man is a 2012 Swedish/British documentary directed by Malik Bendjelloul, which follows the efforts of two Cape Town fans, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out whether the rumored death of Rodriguez was true, and, if not, to discover what had become of him. Previously, the film won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best International Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Durban International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Melbourne Film Festival. Malik Bendjelloul won the 2013 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary for Searching for Sugar Man.

The film tells the magical story of a gifted singer-songwriter from Detroit, who was an enigmatic mystery. His face half-hidden by long flowing hair and dark glasses, he sang in smoke-filled folk music bars, often with his back turned to the audience. His name was Sixto Rodriguez. In the late 1960’s, Rodriguez was so good that with neither fame nor a large fan base, he signed a two-album contract with Sussex and A&R Records. The first album, Cold Fact, got a rare four-star review from Billboard Magazine. However, neither it nor his second album, Coming From Reality, sold well, the contract was dropped and the story seemed to end there.

Nothing else was heard from Sixto Rodriguez. But several years later, his albums traveled half-way around the world, to Cape Town, South Africa, where bootleg copies passed from hand to hand and his songs became the storied anthems of the anti-apartheid movement. When an indie record store owner named Stephen Segerman released them commercially, they took off, the first selling 500,000 copies, which in that nation was comparable to the Beatles or Elvis Presley.

Searching for Sugar Man: The Official UK Trailer

Sixto Rodriguez: The Rock Icon Who Didn’t Know It

Sixty Minutes Overtime: Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez Performs “Crucify Your Mind” (David Letterman)

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Benigni: A Tale of Solitary Loneliness and Affliction

Benigni: A Tale of Solitary Loneliness and Affliction

Benigni is a dramatic and beautifully conceived animated short film created by Elli Vuorinen, Jasmiini Ottelin and Pinja Partanen, students at Sweden’s Turku Arts Academy. A combination of puppetry, stop-motion and computer-aided 2D animation, the film tells the story of Benigni who is a rather seedy, chain-smoking xylophone player living a solitary existence until he discovers a nasty growth sprouting out of his side. This calls for some drastic pruning, but the tumor is not what it appears to be, which takes the story in a totally unexpected direction, and the resolving twist is even more shocking. Moving, funny, sad and surprising all at once, Benigni is well on its way to becoming an internet classic.

Benigni: A Tale of Solitary Loneliness and Affliction

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Prelude to Melancholia: This Is How the End Begins

Prelude to Melancholia: This Is How the End Begins

The Earth is evil,
We don’t need to grieve for it
.”

There are 16 mini-scenes in Lars von Trier’s hauntingly beautiful eight-minute prelude to Melancholia, a movie about love, family and the apocalypse. The soundtrack for the overture to Melancholia is the exquisite prelude to Wagner’s 1859 opera, Tristan and Isolde, an opera Wagner described as “one of endless yearning, longing, the bliss and wretchedness of love; world, power, fame, honor, chivalry, loyalty and friendship all blown away like an insubstantial dream,” for which there is “one sole redemption-death, finality, a sleep without awakening.”

The movie, among Mr. von Trier’s greatest, stars Kirsten Dunst as Justine, a young advertising copywriter who, shortly after she gets married, endures two separate yet related catastrophes. A wedding party at an ocean-side golf resort owned by Justine’s brother-in-law ends with her new husband leaving, which in turn brings on the depression that overtakes her and seems to inaugurate the end of the world or her dream of the same. Many of the movie’s themes are introduced in the overture’s first minutes, a masterpiece in miniature that presents a deep reflection of literary, artistic and cinematic allusions.

Melancholia was named Best Picture at The 2011 European Film Awards in Berlin; the film also won awards for cinematography and production design. Previously, Kirsten Dunst won the Best Actress Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Melancholia. Last week, The National Society of Film Critics named Lars Von Trier’s end-of-the-world drama Melancholia Best Picture, and Best Actress honors went to Kirsten Dunst for her performance in the film.

Read more about Prelude to Melancholia in The New York Times here.

Prelude to Melancholia: This Is How the End Begins

Melancholia: The Official Trailer

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New Landscape Photography: A Thousand Little Suns

Martina Lindqvist, Untitled 5, A Thousand Little Suns, 2011

Martina Lindqvist, Untitled 2, A Thousand Little Suns, 2011

Martina Lindqvist, Untitled 1, A Thousand Little Suns, 2011

New Landscape Photography: A Thousand Little Suns

Photography by: Martina Lindqvist

A Thousand Little Suns is a series of landscape photographs by Swedish-Finnish artist Martina Lindqvist. Landscape photography, though often lovely, is rarely very exciting, but Lindqvist has produced a number of twilight landscapes of ethereal beauty. A Thousand Little Suns offers a contemplative look at the northern landscapes of Ostrobothnia in central Finland, which during the autumn and winter months should be shrouded by an impenetrable darkness. However, in this instance the landscapes find themselves lit by a thousand glowing lights.

The lights in these landscapes are neither natural nor intentional, but rather a by-product of a number of industrial sized greenhouses scattered around the area. The glowing lights smooth grey luminescent skies into superficial, dreamy backdrops that gently involve the viewer in landscapes of brooding pathetic fallacy and solitary introspection.

Photo-Gallery: New Landscape Photography/A Thousand Little Suns

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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iamamiwhoami-y: Bounty

iamamiwhoami-y: Bounty

Mystery artist iamamiwhoami has released a transfixingly bizarre new video.  It’s generally agreed upon that the woman in the video is Swedish singer Jonna Lee, but she hasn’t come forth to make anything official yet.  This video, called “y,” appeared online earlier this week and is the longest and most elaborate of her/their videos thus far.  The previously released videos were titled “b” “o” “u” “n” and “t”, which suggests that the series is named Bounty.  As usual, it’s a brilliant video, and I hope the magic continues… imamazed…iminloveand…icantexplainit….

iamamiwhoami-y: Bounty

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Man in the Moose Suit: Waitin’ for the End to Come

Man in the Moose Suit: Waitin’ for the End to Come

Man in the Moose Suit is the seemingly wacky, psychedelic music video created by Ryan Glenn for the international debut of indie-pop singer Andrew Collberg.  Collberg’s warm voice touches and seduces the heart, resurrecting the sounds of John Lennon, The Band, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.  But beneath the disarmingly melodic music of Man in the Moose Suit is a message that’s both quirky and raw.  The fellow who’s waiting for the end to come in this video is confronted with images of birthdays gone terribly wrong; an elementary school uprising; tattooed, smoking and gun-toting nuns; and the town beauty queen festooned with raggedy toilet-paper decorations.  He watches the heart-rending parade of everyday life going berserk, waiting for the end to come.  And when the last of the sideshows has finally passed him by, the poor man is left sitting all alone on the dusty curb, a single tear running down his cheek.

Man in the Moose Suit: Waitin’ for the End to Come

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Good Weather For Airstrikes: The Innocence of a Stolen Kiss

Good Weather For Airstrikes: The Innocence of a Stolen Kiss

Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása (Good Weather For Airstrikes) is a very brave, very emotional song by Sigur Ros, from their 2000 album Ágætis Byrjun, which was recently released in a 10th anniversary edition.  The music video was directed by Arni and Kinski, where the music, the technique, everything is perfect.  Such a masterpiece, and one can’t help but love the innocence of the stolen kiss!

This one is for the U.S. National Soccer team, maybe they’ll celebrate their goals this way in the next match!

Good Weather For Airstrikes: The Innocence of a Stolen Kiss

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