Malik Bendjelloul: Searching for Sugarman
Skrevet den 25-07-2012 10:26:56 af Tue Steen Müller
A newspaper page: ”American Zero. South African Hero”. The South Africans were right, Rodriguez, the musician the film is about, was/is a song writer and singer on the level of Bob Dylan, but he never made it in the U.S., whereas he was a superstar in apartheid South Africa, where he sold around half a million records and became an icon for the anti-establishment movement – and banned by the official censorship.
It is an incredible story that this award-winning film brings to the screen in a way that ressembles the style of ”Man on Wire”: interviews, archive, reconstructions, ”americana” images of streets and diners in Detroit, his city, and fine animation parts to accompany his music. A kind of suspense is built up: How did he kill himself, with a gun pointing at the head or did he really set fire to himself on stage?
The director follows a couple of fans searching for the answer. His last record was out in November 1971 and he was found alive and kicking 25 years later. In Detroit. It turns out that he had had tough jobs in the building industry, that he at a point was running for a seat in the City Council, and that he has lived the same place for 40 years.
After Rodriguez is found he tours with huge success in South Africa, visually covered through archive and wonderful home video material shot by one of his daughters, who become very much present at the end of the film. They talk about their father and his greatness as do journalists and music people, and this becomes the problem of the film: Rodriguez is no talker, he is a modest man, a fine musician, and why not leave it like that? The film becomes repititive and slightly tabloid where it could have been much more strong letting the small interview bites with Rodriguez stand as they are with no kliché like interviews surround him.
NB. His music is out in connection with the film.
Sweden/UK, 85 mins., 2011
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