Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez the greatest `70s rock icon who never was. After being discovered in a Detroit bar Rodriguez’s sound struck 2 renowned producers and they signed a recording deal. But when the album bombed the singer disappeared into obscurity. A bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and over the next two decades he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero.
Rodriguez, outside of a circle of pre-existing fans, might not be the most famous musician on the planet. But he makes a fascinating subject for the documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Put together in part by the producer of the excellent Man On Wire, Searching For Sugar Man centres around a flop album released by Rodriguez, which went on to build an audience over the decades that followed. But what happened to Rodriguez himself? That’s where the film comes in, and it’s an engaging tale it has to tell.
It’s a terrific documentary, this. Touching, mysterious and centred on a genuinely intriguing subject matter, there’s a lot to grab your interest here. After all, is Rodriguez a myth, the film asks? If not, is he aware of the impact his music has had? The film plays its cards very close to its chest, and is all the better for it.
There’s material beyond the film to be found on the disc, and it digs deeper in the story as part and parcel of that. So you get an interesting commentary track, as well as a making of piece as well. It supplements the main feature extremely well, too, and makes Searching For Sugar Man a surprising and very worthwhile purchase. Especially, ironically, if you’ve never heard of Rodriguez before. —Jon Foster