MALIK Bendjelloul, the Swedish director behind the successful documentary Searching for Sugar Man should be hailed as an honorary Capetonian for bringing so many people to the city, says local close friend and fellow film-maker Stephen “Sugar” Segerman.
Bendjelloul, the director of the Oscar-winning documentary, was found dead in a flat in Stockholm on Tuesday. He was 36.
His brother Johar said he had committed suicide and he had been depressed for a short period.
Bendjelloul last year won an Oscar for his movie in which two South African journalists and Rodriguez fans, Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, set out to find
American singer and guitarist Sixto Rodriguez.
Rodriguez made two albums in the early 1970s. They failed to take off in the US, but a record that made it to South Africa in the 1970s became highly popular.
The two fans found Rodriguez in Detroit and brought him to South Africa in 1998, where he played six sold-out concerts.
Segerman was shocked by reports of the suicide of a man he described as “such a lovely guy.”
The news was “so completely shocking” and he was struggling to understand the reports of depression.
Segerman runs the Mabu Vinyl record store in Rheede Street in the city centre, which features prominently in the documentary.
Last year the three men were whisked off to the Oscars. Their trip was sponsored by the City of Cape Town.
Segerman’s store reaped the rewards of the film with more visitors and tourists coming to the store to relive the tale.
It is for this reason Segerman believes the film delivered a service to the city.
“It’s because of what he did for the city… he brought a lot of people into Cape Town and took Cape Town to so many people.
“He should be considered an honorary Capetonian.
“He contacted me in late 2006,” Segerman said, recalling how Bendjelloul had arrived in his shop as a fresh young student looking to stretch his legs in the film business.
“He arrived in our shop back then and I watched him grow into this gem,” he said.
He said the two of them had got on really well.
“From then on we were always in contact,” he said adding that they had Skyped almost daily. He was literally putting the movie together on his laptop on the kitchen counter.”
The film also won several other awards, including a Bafta for best documentary, and the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Swedish Film Institute said that Bendjelloul had also directed television documentaries about singers Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bjork and German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. - Cape Argus