Searching For Sugar Man, DVD Review by Sabrina Dersel

Released in (2012)
Directed by Malik Bendjelloul

Writing credits:
Malik Bendjelloul
Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman
Craig Bartholomew Strydom

Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman – Himself – Record Shop Owner
Dennis Coffey – Himself – Co-Producer, Cold Fact 1970
Mike Theodore – Himself – Co-Producer, Cold Fact 1970
Steve Rowland – Himself – Producer, Coming from Reality 1971
Willem Möller – Himself – Musician
Craig Bartholomew Strydom – Himself – Music Journalist
Ilse Assmann – Herself – Former Apartheid Archivist
Clarence Avant – Himself – Former Chairman of Motown Records
Eva Rodriguez – Herself – Rodriguez’s Eldest Daughter
Rodriguez – Himself (as Sixto Rodriguez)

Once in a while you are pleasantly surprised by a dvd and once in a while you are totally ecstatic about it!

‘Searching For Sugar Man’ was presented as the opening film at the Sundance festival in 2012. Not surprisingly it became a hit, and went on winning earlier this year the BAFTA award, as well as the Hollywood Academy Award for Best Documentary.

As the first ever work of Swedish director Malik Bendjalloul, this release took him four years to make and is more than just the story about a musician; it is the story of life and the human spirit.

It details the efforts of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out whether the rumoured death of American musician Sixto Rodriguez was true, and, if not, to discover what had become of him.

In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career with only two well received but non-selling albums.

Unknown to Rodriguez, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon and inspiration for generations. His music never took off in the United States, while it had become wildly popular in South Africa, but little was known about him there.

Sixto Rodriguez’s debut album “Cold Fact” was released at the start of the 1970s. Despite production from two of Motown’s best and a point-of-view and delivery that was fresh and of its time, Cold Fact never took off; its follow-up did even less. Rodriguez was dropped from his label and was never heard of again.
During the documentary you will hear many great tracks like “I Wonder,” “Cause,” and “Sugar Man” to name only a few. Normally it takes three or four times to listen to a song and think “Wow, this is a great song” but the second he starts singing, it goes through your bones.

No one can exactly explain why he didn’t t get more recognition. The closest they can come to it is racism; A Mexican American from the inner city was not exactly the kind of superstar America was ready for, unlike Bob Dylan who he was compared to many time. Rodriguez got asked to change his name to Rod Riguez and refused (keep in mind that Bob Dylan’s real name was Robert Allen Zimmerman).

The music and message of ‘Cold Fact’ had become as important to them as that of Jimi Hendrix to the US troops in Vietnam

Even though the apartheid-era government’s strict censorship prevented most of the singer’s tunes from being played on the state-run radio, his songs became an anthem for a generation just learning to stand up for themselves. In South Africa, Rodriguez was bigger than Elvis.

Searching for Sugar Man is essential viewings for music fans and movie fans alike.
The dvd includes the Making Of the documentary and is well worthy to watch.

Musicians who get out of the limelight should never forget or underestimate the impact their music had or still has on us. At the end of this, I’m sure you too will feel uplifted and hopefully curious to find out even more about him and who knows maybe go and see him live, as he’s still touring even though he is 70!

The album soundtrack from the documentary contains a compilation of songs by Rodriguez from his two studio albums. As a result of the popularity of the documentary, the album climbed surprisingly high for a soundtrack album in many national album charts.

In Sweden, it reached #3 in early 2013 when the Academy Award nomination was announced, and had been in the charts for 26 weeks by the time it received the award in February 2013; in Denmark it reached #18; and in New Zealand it reached #24.

Track listing
“Sugar Man” (3:50)
“Crucify Your Mind” (2:32)
“Cause” (5:29)
“I Wonder” (2:34)
“Like Janis” (2:37)
“This Is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues” (2:07)
“Can’t Get Away” (3:56)
“I Think of You” (3:26)
“Inner City Blues” (3:27)
“Sandrevan Lullaby – Lifestyles” (6:39)
“Street Boy” (3:47)
“A Most Disgusting Song” (4:48)
“I’ll Slip Away” (2:51)
“Jane S. Piddy” (3:00)

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