“Searching for Sugar Man” tells a quirky and inspiring story about a singer/songwriter who vanished in the 1970s. Rodriguez recorded two albums, titled “Cold Fact” and “Coming From Reality”. Despite support from key figures in the American music industry, both albums failed to chart and he faded from view, amid rumours of his death.
Somehow, the music got to South Africa where Rodriguez became a hero. I heard cassette tape versions of both albums in the late 1980s, through a South African friend, and wondered how I had never heard of this gifted composer.
The movie follows Rodriguez’ story, from his early gigs in Detroit through a number of twists and turns in his life.
It was shown on Sunday morning at a free screening for members of Stratford Picturehouse and I was very pleasantly surprised to hear lots of other people singing along to the songs, as I was.
There are so many messages in the film. In our celebrity-obsessed age, it’s great to hear the story of someone who has a focus on values, politics and truth-telling in songs. This is a tale of a creative and working class man, who was the son of Mexican immigrants who came to Detroit’s to work for car manufacturers.
And it’s all about persistence, lasting talent and research. It is utterly extraordinary.
It won the Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. It packs a lot of emotional punch into its 86 minutes.
As first time director Malik Benjelloul said: “It’s a testament to the power of the arts”.
See it. You will be lifted.