Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man is a 2012 Swedish–British–Finnish documentary film about a South African cultural phenomenon, directed and written by Malik Bendjelloul, which details the efforts in the late 1990s of two Cape Town fans, 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. Rodriguez's music, which had never achieved success in the United States, had become very popular in South Africa although little was known about him in that country.
|Searching for Sugar Man|
US theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Malik Bendjelloul|
|Written by||Malik Bendjelloul|
|Edited by||Malik Bendjelloul|
|Box office||$9.1 million|
On 10 February 2013, the film won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary at the 66th British Academy Film Awards in London, and two weeks later it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood.
Initially using Super 8 film to record stylised shots for the film, director Malik Bendjelloul ran out of money for more film to record the final few shots. After three years of cutting-room work the main financial backers of the film threatened to withdraw funding to finish it. He resorted to filming the remaining stylised shots on his smartphone using an iPhone app called 8mm Vintage Camera.
Searching for Sugar Man was the opening film at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012, where it won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary. It was released in the United Kingdom on 26 July 2012, and had a limited release (New York and Los Angeles) in the United States the following day.
Searching for Sugar Man performed well during its theatrical release, earning $3,696,196 at the US box office (47th of all US docs on Box Office Mojo).
Searching for Sugar Man has received widespread critical acclaim. The film holds a 95% rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.97/10, based on reviews from 130 critics. The site's critical consensus reads, "A fascinating portrait of a forgotten musical pioneer, Searching for Sugar Man is by turns informative and mysterious." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 79 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a glowing four-star review, writing "I hope you're able to see this film...and yes, it exists because we need for it to." The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis also wrote a positive review, calling the film "a hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing." Dargis subsequently named Searching for Sugar Man one of the 10 best films of 2012.
The film's narrative of a South African story about an American musician omits that Rodriguez was successful in Australia in the 1970s and toured there in 1979 and 1981. Because of this omission some critics have called the documentary "myth-making". However, the film focuses on his mysterious reputation in South Africa and the attempts of music historians there to track him down in the mid-1990s. South Africans were unaware of his Australian success due to the harsh censorship enacted by the apartheid regime coupled with international sanctions that made any communication with the outside world on the subject of banned artists virtually impossible.
Awards and nominations
- Searching for Sugar Man won the Best Documentary category at the 85th Academy Awards. Rodriguez declined to attend the award ceremony as he did not want to overshadow the filmmakers' achievement if he came up on stage with them. Upon accepting his award, producer Simon Chinn remarked on such generosity, "That just about says everything about that man and his story that you want to know." However, Malik Bendjelloul also said on stage, "Thanks to one of the greatest singers ever, Rodriguez."
- The film also won the Best Documentary category at the 66th British Academy Film Awards on 10 February 2013.
- The Directors Guild of America awarded the DGA Award for best documentary on 2 February 2013.
- The Writers Guild of America awarded the WGA Award for best documentary.
- The Producers Guild of America awarded the PGA Award for best documentary.
- The American Cinema Editors awarded the ACE Eddie Award for best documentary.
- It won the Guldbagge Award for Best Documentary at the 48th Guldbagge Awards.
- It won The National Board of Review in New York on 5 December 2012.
- The International Documentary Association (IDA) awarded Searching for Sugar Man Best Feature and Best Music at the 28th Annual IDA Documentary Awards on 7 December 2012 at the Directors Guild of America building, Los Angeles, California.
- It also won Best Documentary during Critics' Choice Awards – Searching for Sugar Man
- Searching for Sugar Man won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The film also won the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Durban International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Melbourne Film Festival, 2nd place Winner Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.
- At the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam held in November 2012, Searching for Sugar Man won both the Audience and the Best Music Documentary awards.
- Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) Searching for Sugar Man was awarded $50,000 (US) where the film shared the "Best of the Fest" audience award with the Chinese feature film Full Circle.
- Best Film (The Audience Award) at Vilnius International Film Festival
- Best Film—In-Edit Festival in Santiago de Chile
- The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking has nominated Searching for Sugar Man for five awards, tying with The Imposter for the most nominations. Winners of the 6th Annual Cinema Eye Honors will be announced on 9 January 2013 as Cinema Eye returns for a third year to New York City's Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, New York.
The film was also the recipient of the Australian Film Critics Association award for Best Documentary of 2012, beating locally produced musical documentary All the Way Through Evening.
Searching for Sugar Man is a 2012 soundtrack album from the documentary containing a compilation of songs by Rodriguez from his two studio albums. It reached No. 3 in Sweden 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 No. 18 and in New Zealand it reached No. 24.
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- "The 2013 Oscars Best Documentary Award", Docomentaryhive.com, 25 February 2013.Archived 19 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- "The 85th Academy Awards (2013) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- Sveriges Radio, Sommar i P1: Malik Benjelloul; Summary in English: "You've only got three months" Retrieved 14 May 2014
- $1.99 iPhone app saved Oscars film CNN Money
- Vulture.com, 21 January 2012: Sundance: The Electrifying Search For Sugar Man. Retrieved 26 February 2013
- "Searching for Sugar Man on Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- "Searching for Sugar Man (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
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- Ebert, Roger (8 August 2012). "Searching for Sugar Man". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Dargis, Manohla (26 July 2012). "Searching for Sugar Man". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Dargis, Manohla (14 December 2012). "Against the Odds, Smart Films Thrive at the Box Office". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Watt, Andrew (28 February 2013). "International man of mystery". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Stewart, Rebecca L. "Searching For Sugar Man: myth-making at its best?". The Vine. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Cody, Bill (21 January 2013). "'Searching For Sugar Man' – True Story or the Making of a Myth?". Rope of Silicon. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Davis, Sue (9 October 2012). "Music that impacted anti-apartheid struggle". Workers World. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- Rohter, Larry (20 July 2012). "A Real-Life Fairy Tale, Long in the Making and Set to Old Tunes". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- McCollum, Brian (10 January 2013). "Sixto Rodriguez rides the wave of 'Searching for Sugar Man' success". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- Reuters, Sapa-AFP. "Sugar Man takes Oscar". DailyNews. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
- Germain, David (25 February 2013). "Oscars 2013: 'Argo' Takes Home Best Picture at 85th Academy Awards". Moviefone. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
- "IDA Documentary Awards 2012 | International Documentary Association". Documentary.org. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- "Affleck, Argo win big at Critics' Choice Awards". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Gallo, Phil (25 June 2012). "Rodriguez Doc 'Searching for Sugar Man' Wins Audience Award at L.A. Film Fest". Billboard. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Durban International Film Festival: All the winners | Welcome to The Movies". Themovies.co.za. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "34th Moscow Int'l Film Festival Award Winners | Filmmaking in Russia". Russianfilm.biz. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Winners of the IDFA 2012 Awards announced". Amsterdam, Netherlands: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "Doha Tribeca Film Festival". Doha Film Institute. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- "The 2013 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking". Cinemaeyehonors.com. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Krausz, Peter (22 February 2013). "AFCA Award Winners". AFCA. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "AFCA 2012 Nominees". Subculture Media. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- Official website
- Searching for Sugar Man at IMDb
- Searching for Sugar Man at Rotten Tomatoes
- Searching for Sugar Man at Metacritic
- Searching for Sugar Man at Box Office Mojo
- Searching for Sugar Man at the Swedish Film Institute Database
- Article by Craig Bartholomew in Johannesburg's Mail & Guardian, 20 February 1998: Fact: Rodriguez lives
- South African made For TV movie 'Looking For Jesus' based on original article written by Craig Bartholomew Strydom on YouTube