Sometimes there are stories that are too good to be true, but every once in a while audiences are graced with a documentary that is more moving then any narrative feature because it is true, and there is magic in truth. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN is one of those magical films that will leave you swelled with joy, excitement and quite possibly tears.
The Sugar Man being searched for is the singer/songwriter Rodriguez, an “inner city poet” who is often compared to Bob Dylan by the producers who worked with him during his brief recording career in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Rodriguez’s career as a musician was a non starter, his records didn’t sell in America or Europe, and he was eventually let out of his contract having never found an audience for his art.
But the story only begins with the sad tale of Rodriguez as a young man. While the rest of the world remained clueless to the great talent of Rodriguez, his music found a cultural foothold in the most unlikely of places, South Africa. Many speculate how the first Rodriguez album first arrived in the then isolated country, but that mystery is overshadowed by the cultural impact that the music had on the youth of that country. Rodriguez’s music introduced a whole generation to the idea of being “anti establishment”, a generation who would stand up to an almost totalitarian government body who enforced censorship and Apartheid. They ended the institutional segregation with Rodriguez providing their sound track.
After the dust had settled Rodriguez’s biggest fans started to ask a question, who is Rodriguez? They could find information about the Beatles and read a biography about Elvis, but nothing was known about Rodriguez. There where a few rumors of the artist committing suicide during a live concert, but the only real information the they had on the man came from the songs he had written and the album art work that surrounded them. Two of South Africa’s biggest fans took it upon themselves to find out who this man was and how he died. What follows is good old-fashioned detective work, following the money and the lyrics down the most magical of rabbit holes. What happens next is part of South African history, and we are lucky enough to be clued into it. This film will leave you wondering if there is truly magic still hidden in the world.
– Joel Watts, Violet Crown Cinema