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Searching for Sugar Man

  • Documentary and factual
  • News and current affairs
  • 2011
  • Malik Bendjelloul
  • 82 mins
  • 12A

Summary

Documentary in which director Malik Bendjelloul tells the stranger-than-fiction story of musician Sixto Rodriguez, who faded into obscurity in his native USA after releasing two albums in the early 1970s - only to become a cult figure in Apartheid-era South Africa.

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Review

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

For the uninitiated, Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez released two albums at the beginning of the 1970s that set out his stall as a Dylanesque psych-folkie with a social conscience. Although critically lauded, his records failed to sell and he was dropped from his label, and from there he faded into obscurity. So went his story in the US, but, as this documentary reveals, his anti-establishment songs struck a chord in Apartheid-era South Africa - so much so that he became, according to one interviewee here, bigger than Elvis and the Stones. With his legendary status came stories of a rock 'n' roll death (self-immolation, blowing his brains out on stage etc), but further digging by two South Africans, a journalist and a record-store owner, toward the end of the 1990s revealed otherwise. Rodriguez's story is described by one who was there as "too strange to be true", and Malik Bendjelloul's film is certainly an intriguing mix of detective drama and fairy tale. It's just a shame that the enigmatic man at its centre is such a vague, fleeting presence - for the most part it is left to his songs, family and co-workers to speak for him. Make no mistake, the story of Sixto Rodriguez is an incredible one, but you can't help feeling that something has been lost in this telling.

How to watch

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Credits

Crew

rolename
DirectorMalik Bendjelloul

Details

Theatrical distributor
Studio Canal
Released on
2012-07-27
Languages
English
Guidance
Swearing.
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour
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