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Monday, October 29, 2012

"Searching for Sugar Man", mystery, magic, music

Searching for Sugar Man
Beefeater In-Edit Festival 2012, chapter I

First of the five films of our selection at the Beefeater In-Edit 2012, and what a movie to start the Festival! Finally a film where what matters is the story that is trying to tell the spectators. And what a story! Incredible, shocking, mysterious, touching, musically very attractive... In a word, fascinating.

This is a documentary on a completely forgotten artist. Not even a side note on the page of the 70s' music history. Sixto Rodriguez, an unknown folk-rock singer/songwriter from Detroit (Mexican familiar origins) who released two albums in the early 1970s, "Cold Fact", and "Coming From Reality". Despite the quality of his music and lyrics, somewhere in between Bob Dylan and Nick Drake, he could not achieve any popularity, so he quickly vanished, retiring, unnoticed from music. We get opinions from his producers and critics, praising the artist and blaming his lack of success and being dropped by his record label.

To this point, "Searching for Sugar Man", would have been a nice music discovery, because the songs of Rodríguez deserve to be listened (so the research will be done) but not a very memorable film. But we quickly discover this is not the end of the story... On the contrary, is an unexpected beginning... Because while completely unknown in America, the guy was a phenomenon in South Africa, a massive success and a referential artist for many people in that country, the soundtrack of the fight against Apartheid by Afrikaners. For them, Rodríguez was a hero with little or zero information about. A mysterious legend who rumours said had a dramatic end.

How could that be? Why Rodríguez was never aware of his success? What about the terrible suicide? I won't spoil you the movie, so I will stop revealing the development of the film here. Just let me add that starting from these questions a search of information, an attempt to solve the mystery begins, carried by hardcore fans, who become music detectives. It will unfold a story that you will qualify as surreal, impossible, one that Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul bring to us in the most touching way, as explained by the people who did themselves, meeting and connecting with others. It's an amazing quest, that will grab you and touch you deeply. Because they will reach an unexpected goal, a goal that will reveal itself as an example, celebration of human condition and how powerful music can be.

"Searching for Sugar Man" is not only a great and deeply absorbing entertainment. It is also an inspiring film on mankind. There's mystery, magic and wonderful music. What more can you ask for? Thanks In-Edit for such a discovery.

SCORE: 8,5/10

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