Malik Bendjelloul, a Swedish filmmaker who won the 2013 Academy Award for best documentary with his debut feature, “Searching for Sugar Man,” about a forgotten American balladeer who, unwittingly, had achieved fame halfway around the world, was found dead on Tuesday in Stockholm. He was 36.
The police there confirmed the death without immediately giving the cause. But his brother Johar later told The Associated Press that Mr. Bendjelloul had committed suicide, giving no other details. He told another news organization that his brother had struggled with depression.
A largely inexperienced filmmaker when he started the project, Mr. Bendjelloul edited “Searching for Sugar Man” in his Stockholm apartment and paid for most of it himself.
The film tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Detroit who recorded two blues-tinged folk-rock albums under the single name Rodriguez in the early 1970s and then vanished from the music scene, a casualty of poor publicity and meager sales.
For decades he supported himself and three daughters doing manual labor, unaware that his music — songs of protest and hardscrabble life rendered in a heartfelt tenor — had resonated in South Africa, where opponents of apartheid especially admired his anthems of struggle.
The film takes its title from “Sugar Man,” a song about a drug dealer that appeared on Rodriguez’s 1970 album, “Cold Fact.”
The film unearths Rodriguez’s tale in the manner of a detective story, telling of the search for information about the singer that had been started by an ardent fan, Stephen Segerman, a Cape Town record store owner.
Reviewing the film in The New York Times, Manohla Dargis called it “a hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing.”
Mr. Bendjelloul was born in Ystad, Sweden, on Sept. 14, 1977, and grew up in Angelholm.
Published sources say that his father, Hacène Bendjelloul, was an Algerian doctor and that his mother, the former Veronica Schildt, was a translator and a painter. Information about survivors was not available.
As a youth in the early 1990s, Malik appeared in a recurring role in the Swedish television series “Ebba and Didrik,” about siblings in a seaside village. (The director was his uncle.)
He studied journalism at the University of Kalmar (now Linnaeus University), and went on to make short documentary features for Swedish television featuring interviews with musicians like Björk and Elton John.
Restless, in 2006, he quit his job and traveled to Africa in search of a story for a movie of his own. In Cape Town he met Mr. Segerman, who in 1997 had created a website, The Great Rodriguez Hunt, hoping to gather information about the singer.
Ultimately, Mr. Bendjelloul was able to interview Mr. Rodriguez and tell the tale of the search in the film.
“This was the greatest, the most amazing, true story I’d ever heard, an almost archetypal fairy tale,” he said in a 2012 interview with The Times. “It’s a perfect story. It has the human element, the music aspect, a resurrection and a detective story.”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bendjelloul at the 2012 Deauville American Film Festival
|Born||14 September 1977|
Ystad, Skåne, Sweden
|Died||13 May 2014 (aged 36)|
Solna, Stockholm, Sweden
Cause of death
|Occupation||Film director, actor, screenwriter, journalist|
|Known for||Searching for Sugar Man (2012)|
Malik Bendjelloul (14 September 1977 – 13 May 2014) was a Swedish Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and former child actor. He is best known for his 2012 documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, which won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award.
Bendjelloul was born in Ystad in Sweden, 55 kilometres (34 mi) east of Malmö, the son of Algerian-born physician Hacène Bendjelloul and Swedish translator and painter Veronica Schildt Bendjelloul. He was the brother of journalistJohar Bendjelloul and the nephew of actors Peter and Johan Schildt. Bendjelloul grew up in central and southern Sweden (Ängelholm) and during the 1990s acted in the SVT TV series Ebba och Didrik as Philip Clavelle. The episodes were directed by his uncle, Peter Schildt. Bendjelloul was educated at the Rönne Gymnasium in Ängelholm, where he entered the social science programme. He graduated in 1996. He then attended Kalmar University, where he studied journalism and media production.
Bendjelloul started his television career as a reporter on Swedish public television (SVT), where he worked as afreelancer and journalist for Kobra. His career also included working as a host for the breakfast television programmeGomorron Sverige as well as for the morning radio programme P1-morgon for Sveriges Radio. Prior to working for SVT, he also worked for an independent production company, Barracuda Film & TV. Subsequently, he left the job to direct documentaries on musicians including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Björk and Kraftwerk.
Bendjelloul's documentary Searching for Sugar Man won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Bendjelloul also won the 2013 BAFTA Award, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, American Cinema Editors, the Sundance audience and special jury accolades and the 2012 International Documentary Association awards. Eventually, the documentary achieved commercial success as well and made $3.6 million (£2.7 million) at the box office. Rodriguez had revival of his musical career after the release.
In 2013, Bendjelloul was invited to host a show on the Swedish radio show Sommar i P1, where he told the listeners about the process behind Searching for Sugar Man.
Malik Bendjelloul committed suicide on 13 May 2014 after struggling with depression, as reported by his brother, Johar. At the time of his death, he was working on a film project based on Lawrence Anthony's book The Elephant Whisperer.
- Ebba och Didrik (1990) (actor)
- Searching for Sugar Man (2012) (director)
Malik Bendjelloul (September 14, 1977 – May 13, 2014) was a Swedish Academy-Award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and former child actor. He is best known for his 2012 documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, which won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award.