Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Review of "Search for Sugar Man"

Watched this remarkable film on iPlayer (from BBC4) last night. The story of a hispanic-american musician and songwriter whose career fails, and then discovers years later that he had had a massive following in South Africa, a country he had never visited, where his records circulated in bootlegs but also legal copies from which he received no royalties.

A couple of fans wonder what ever happened to him, amid rumours that he committed suicide live on stage. But they track him down and find him live and impoverished in Detroit, where he works as a day-labourer doing demolition for construction firms.

That would be amazing enough. It's made more remarkable because:
  • the guy - Sixto Rodriguez - was important to several generations of young white South Africans as part of the process by which they distanced themselves from the prevailing repressive White culture and political system
  • and he seems to have been utterly at peace with his lack of musical success - to have become a worker-poet with a degree of engagement in local politics
  • and when, at the film's conclusion, they bring him to South Africa to perform a series of concerts to his huge fan base, he is every inch a rock star - not cowed or hesitant at all, and totally on top of his material and his performance.

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