Searching for Sugar Man (SONIC WAVE Weekly)

Trailer Review


A SONIC WAVE Weekly screening.

Monday, June 24

The son of Mexican immigrants, singer-songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodriguez recorded two politically conscious albums in 1969 and 1970. Set against swirling string arrangements, they flopped at home. But in Apartheid-era South Africa, Sugar Man’s subversive music was passed around like a magic talisman and celebrated as the equal of the Beatles and Neil Young. So what happened to Sugar Man? Rumors abounded regarding his heroin overdose, a fiery on-stage suicide, and his long sentence for killing a lover. But two rabid fans, a jeweler and a journalist, weren’t content to leave the puzzle alone. Jumping on the mystery train, Searching for Sugar Man brings Detroit and Cape Town alive through expertly assembled archival materials and animation, demonstrating the delicious uncertainties of the pre-Internet era. And the film weaves in Rodriguez’s music which, 40 years later, retains its revelatory power. (dir. Malik Bendjelloul, Sweden, 2012, 86 min.)

“It ultimately earns its happy ending and buzzy, crowd-pleasing populist appeal by alchemizing trembling inner-city pain into transcendent international beauty.” —The AV Club