Searching for Sugar Man director commits suicide

2014-05-14 14:08

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Stockholm – Swedish film director Malik Bendjelloul, whose documentary Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar last year, has killed himself, his family said, triggering tributes for a man who "chased the world for stories to tell".

Police said Bendjelloul, who was 36, had died late yesterday in the Stockholm area.

His brother later confirmed local media reports that he had committed suicide.

"I can confirm my brother has taken his own life," Johar Bendjelloul said in a text message to Reuters.

Searching for Sugar Man, structured like a mystery, followed two South African journalists trying to track down US singer Sixto Rodriguez after his disappearance from the public scene.

Rodriguez had failed to achieve fame in the US but, unknown to him, had become a popular and influential folk icon in South Africa.

Searching for Sugar Man swept major awards from the US directors’, producers’ and writers’ guilds and won audience and special jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

It also helped make Rodriguez, who is still alive, better known in the US and led to a revival of his musical career.

Sony Pictures Classics, the film’s distributor, led the tributes to Bendjelloul today.

“Much like Rodriguez himself, Malik was a genuine person who chased the world for stories to tell,” it said.

“He didn’t chase fame, fortune or awards, although those accolades still found him as many others recognised his storytelling.”

Nicholas Wenno, a reporter at Sweden’s daily Dagens Nyheter, described the filmmaker as “a whimsical genius who saw the world in his own way, who seemed fuelled by atomic energy”.

“We are many who will mourn you,” Wenno added.

Bendjelloul was born in the town of Ystad near Malmo in southern Sweden, according to film database

He also directed television documentaries about pop singers Elton John, Rod Stewart and Bjork and German electronic music pioneers, Kraftwerk, the Swedish Film Institute said.

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