searching for sugar man director

UPDATE: The investigation into Bendjelloul’s death has revealed an apparent suicide. The original text follows.

This is a tragic piece of news. Malik Bendjelloul, director of the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, has died at the age of 36. A cause of death was not released, but foul play is not believed to have played a part in his passing.

Bendjelloul came to the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 with his first film, a little documentary called Searching for Sugar Man. It opened the festival and was an immediate breakout hit. A year later, Ben Affleck presented Bendjelloul with the Oscar for Best Documentary, marking the filmmaker’s arrival as one to watch. His passing comes far too early.

Below, watch Bendjelloul at his peak, winning his first and only Oscar. Read More »

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WGA Awards Go to ‘Argo’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

In the last major pre-Oscars guild awards, the WGA followed the PGA, the DGA, and the SAG (not to mention the HFPA, the BAFTA, and most every other film-related acronym you can think of) in feting Argo, this time for the excellent adapted screenplay by Chris TerrioMark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty nabbed the original screenplay award, but at this point Argo seems a virtual lock to pick up Best Picture come Sunday.

Meanwhile, Malik Bendjelloul‘s documentary Searching for Sugar Man continued its winning streak, while critical faves Breaking BadLouie, and Girls all emerged victorious in the television categories. Hit the jump to see the winners.

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With just days to go until Oscar nominations are announced, the Writers Guild of America has unveiled its list of nominees for their top screenplay awards. As expected, many of these are films that have picked up plenty of accolades already. It’ll surprise no one to see that Zero Dark ThirtyMoonrise Kingdom, and Lincoln are among the contenders. But they’ve made room for some more offbeat choices as well, including LooperPerks of Being a Wallflower, and The Master. (Jason Reitman should be pleased.) Hit the jump to see the list.

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If the doling out of awards by the New York Film Critics Circle, and the release of the Annie Awards nominations hadn’t made it clear, as we’ve passed into December the movie business award season is officially open.

The latest stage in the game is the release of a shortlist of documentaries that will be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for nomination for the Best Documentary Oscar early next year. (This is not the nomination list — that will be released in January.) There are a few nice inclusions (such as our Sundance fave Searching for Sugar Man), some expected inclusions (The Invisible War, The Imposter, How to Survive a Plague) along with a batch of other possible nominations that we can all argue over. Read More »

One of the big hits of both Sundance and SXSW this year was the doc Searching For Sugar Man, about the singer Rodriguez, whose records bombed in the US in the ’70s even as it became a major cultural force in South Africa. Sony Classics picked up the film after Sundance, but no trailer has been released at this point. But last night 60 Minutes profiled both the film and its subjects, and that segment is now online.

I haven’t seen the doc, and so I can’t say whether or not this segment ultimately undercuts any narrative suspense built into the film. (I suspect that it does.) But if you’re willing to take that chance, or are more interested in the story than any reveals in the documentary, I’d recommend taking a a look.

When you do watch, I expect (just as Sony Classics hopes) that you’ll be eager to see the movie, as an interview with Rodriguez reveals him to be a wonderful subject, and the story of filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul is also wild. (He says he shot much of the doc on his iPhone.) Read More »

This year’s SXSW Film Festival will open in less than a month, on Friday, March 9, 2012, and run through Saturday, March 17 in Austin, Texas. The opening night film is the world premiere of Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods, and the rest of the film schedule includes pictures such as God Bless America, The Raid, and Midnight entries John Dies at the End and V/H/S.

Now the last wave of SXSW film programming has been announced. The lineup now includes some Sundance 2012 faves such as Searching For Sugar Man (review), Shut Up and Play the Hits (trailer), Safety Not Guaranteed (review), Sleepwalk With Me (review).

There are even quite a few other movies that don’t have titles beginning with ‘s,’ such as Todd Rohal‘s Nature Calls, featuring Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville, and the restored version of Yellow Submarine.

You can find the lineup of today’s film announcements below, and check the entire schedule, complete with both screening and conference dates and times, at www.sxsw.com/film. Read More »

The Sundance Film Festival prepared to come to a close for 2012 tonight as the festival held its some of its last screenings and mounted an awards ceremony to celebrate the best films of this year’s festival. The biggest jury prizes went to Beasts of the Southern Wild (reviewed here) and Eugene Jarecki‘s war on drugs documentary The House I Live In.

The Surrogate (reviewed here) took an Audience Award, as did the doc Searching for Sugar Man (reviewed here) and the film Valley of Saints. The full list of awards is below. Read More »

There are no magic tricks in Searching for Sugar Man. No one has a wand and the stakes are certainly not life or death. It just so happens that the fascinating real life story of Rodriguez, a rock singer from the early 1970s, shares some eerie parallels with everyone’s favorite boy wizard, Harry Potter.

Both were extremely famous in a world they weren’t aware of, yet total nobodies in their own lives. Both were surrounded by unfathomable urban legend. Both helped inspire a people to rise up against evil and, for both the mythic musician the fictional character, these two worlds ended up crashing together in a truly emotional and fascinating way.

Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul, was one of the opening night films of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Sony Classics bought the film for US distribution this morning. Read more after the jump. Read More »

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