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 »

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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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 »

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 »