Imagine you’re a small-time folk musician in the 70s, and after signing to a record label you release two studio albums to little fanfare. And so life reverts back to the blue-collar job and the rest is history.
This is the Swedish/British documentary about Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, a Detroit 70s rock icon, who experienced accelerated fame in Apartheid-era South Africa, the only thing is, he finds out more than two decades later. It was the bootleg recording that made it all the way to South Africa that instigated a national phenomenon resulting in the ‘Search[ing] for Sugar Man’.
The film follows the story of two South African fans, record shop manager Stephen Segerman and the music journalist Craig Bartholomew-Strydom, who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. The determined duo knew no more about the singer than what they read on the record sleeves, and after a search that covers rivers and continents – in 1998 their hunt is finally over.
What continues is the stuff of fairy-tales; this is a tale more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist that was mistakenly identified as deceased. Rumours about the elusive musician told news of an accidental overdose or suicide and years later the truth is uncovered: Rodriguez continues to live in Detroit, working a job that pays meagre earnings.
Playing out like a fictitious book, this is one documentary that’ll have you questioning its validity. The story that emerges, told against the background of Rodriguez’s standout music, is unbelievably heart-warming. ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ is a film about hope, inspiration and the resonating power of music.