Malik Bendjelloul, 'Searching for Sugar Man' Director, Dies at 36

Image: Malik Bendjelloul, 'Searching for Sugar Man' Director, Dies at 36

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 11:21 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Malik Bendjelloul, who directed and co-wrote the moving Oscar-winning documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" in 2013, was found dead Tuesday by Swedish police. He was 36.

Authorities in Stockholm, where Bendjelloul's body was found, did not specify how the director died, according to Variety. His award-winning documentary, "Searching for Sugar Man," focused on the life and career of Detroit singer Sixto Rodriguez and his unlikely fan base a world away in South Africa.

Pia Glenvik, Swedish police spokeswoman, said told The Associated Press that it does not appear that foul play was involved in Bendjelloul's death.

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A native of Sweden, Bendjelloul studied journalism and media production, Variety reported. The filmmaker produced multiple music documentaries in Sweden and also once held a job as a television news reporter before taking off to travel in Africa and South America.

"I was backpacking around Africa and South America looking for stories with a camera," Bendjelloul told the Independent in 2012 on how he stumbled upon the "Searching for Sugar Man" story. "I found six stories and this was one of the six. I thought it was the best story I'd ever heard."

The documentary, which also won the British BAFTA for Best Documentary and the Swedish Guldbagge award, centered on Rodriguez's music, which gained a rabid cult following among white liberals in South Africa during the apartheid era, according to the AP. Rodriguez's songs protesting the Vietnam War and racial discrimination in the 1970s struck an emotional chord with those fighting against apartheid.

Rodriguez, who lived in Detroit and worked as a construction worker after his music didn't sell in the United States, had no idea why his songs gained popularity off in South Africa.

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