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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