Rent Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

4.1 of 5 from 432 ratings
1h 23min
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In the late '60s, a musician was discovered in a Detroit bar by two celebrated producers who were struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics. They recorded an album that they believed was going to secure his reputation as one of the greatest recording artists of his generation. Despite overwhelming critical acclaim, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumours of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, it became a phenomenon. Feature follows two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero.
Their investigation led them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez. This is a film about hope, inspiration and the resonating power of music.
Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, , Mike Theodore, , Jerome Ferretti, , Willem Möller, Craig Bartholomew Strydom, Ilse Assmann, Steve M. Harris, Robbie Mann, , , Regan Rodriguez, Sandra Rodriguez-Kennedy, Rick Emmerson, Rian Malan, Malik Bendjelloul
Malik Bendjelloul
Simon Chinn, Malik Bendjelloul
Malik Bendjelloul, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
Malik Bendjelloul
Documentary, Music & Musicals

2013 BAFTA Best Documentary

2013 Oscar Best Documentary

2012 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Audience Award Documentary

2012 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Special Jury Prize Documentary

Release Date:
Run Time:
83 minutes
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
  • Exclusive 30 Minute Making Of Documentary
  • Commentary with Director Malik Bendjelloul and Sixto Rodriguez
Release Date:
Run Time:
86 minutes
  • Exclusive 30 Minute Making Of Documentary
  • Commentary with Director Malik Bendjelloul and Sixto Rodriguez

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Reviews (7) of Searching for Sugar Man

Strangely compelling - Searching for Sugar Man review by JD

Spoiler Alert

I found this so compelling that I bought the album. The film is strangely unfocussed on the music much more on the myth and legend of a lesser known folk singer. It is a genre between biography, documentary and detective. The songs are only played in short segments. I don't know if this is to maintain a mystery, avoid paying royalties or because as I discovered, they are very repetitive, almost hypnotically monotone and initially tedious. I urge you to keep with it because it is very simple music but the mood can be very melancholy.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

So so good! - Searching for Sugar Man review by BS

Spoiler Alert

It just doesn't seem like a real story. The structuring is excellent. It grips and holds and takes you along. The end will bring you to your knees in a moving yet charming way. It is a shame that other reviewers have revealed the plot, because I went into it blind and couldn't believe it was real. Do it.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

ASTONISHING AND ABSORBING - Searching for Sugar Man review by JF

Spoiler Alert

I was hooked immediately. And it wasn't just the astonishing story of the "forgotten" musician and the lengthy search to find him. I was also taken aback at some of the details of life in South Africa for the white population of the time. In the UK we knew about the trials and tribulations of the black population, but little of how the average white S. African was affected by the anti-apartheid embargoes. The young population were apparently cut off from the mainstream culture of the rest of the western world ... As the white South African 'Sugarman' explained, it was a very conservative country, and Rodriguez' lyrics shocked many.

The huge reaction, the emotion and the warmth of the crowds was a revelation, and not just for his first gig

I now have both the DVD and a CD, so obviously the film has made me a fan.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

Searching for Sugar Man review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso

Searching for Sugar Man is a movie heaped in unexpected-ness; there really is no other way to put it. This musical documentary begins as two South African music lovers; a record store owner and a rock journalist decide to find out the truth behind the disappearance of their idol, a Mexican-American musician whose music resonated so strongly with the oppressed people of South Africa during the Apatite that his songs became the war cries of a generation.

And you could ask 1000 Americans from his home town of Detroit and they never would have heard of him…

This unexpected music god, known only as Rodriguez, rocked South Africa after a single copy of one of his records was brought home as a gift by a girl for her boyfriend back in 1970, from there his music spread like wildfire. Yet, it seems, Rodriguez would never step foot upon the continent himself.

All this happens in the early 90’s, and the case (as followed by our rock and roll detectives) seems to wind constantly out into rumour and hearsay, until sometime in 1998 when the advent of the internet cracks the case wide open.

It is hard to discuss this movie without spoiling its outcome, I can say however that as the unexpected mystery of Rodriguez’s current whereabouts unfold we are treated to a wealth of other character interviews with those who knew him or heard his music almost thirty years ago. A patron of a slum bar in Detroit describes him as a drifter, whilst some of the men behind the biggest names in Motown lament over his lack of success State-side.

The unexpected popularity of Rodriguez can really only be translated to that of Bob Dylan in Western culture – and the music that makes up the soundtrack to this fabulous little documentary is surprisingly evocative of Dylan and left me with goose bumps.

In its short runtime Searching for Sugar Man introduces a wholly unexpected but nonetheless charming and fulfilling drama and mystery that literally blew me away. This is an absolute must see for anyone with an interest in music or political history and an unexpected treasure for everyone else.

Rating: 5/5

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