It was with shock I heard that Malik Bendjelloul was dead. It was only last year that I met him – when Searching for Sugarman had its premier in London. However, my relationship with him went back to the early days of the making of the documentary as friends and family were involved: from finding Rodriguez to bringing him back from obscurity.
I missed meeting Malik when he came to our house to interview John on his fiction, Rodriguez and whose contribution is acknowledged in the credits of the film. Somewhere in all the tape on the cutting-room floor are the books in my library and a little bit of this incredibly talented director’s spirit.
If you haven’t had a chance to see Searching for Sugarman, I strongly recommend you do. I wasn’t a particular fan of Rodriguez’s music (it does grow on you after 10 years of listening to it and knowing the background story) but this should not put you off watching the documentary.
Malik took a little piece of South African history and brought it to life in a gentle and touching way. In addition to telling the Rodriguez’ story, the documentary opens a window on South African white anti-apartheid activities happening inside the country – a story which still needs to be told.
What is absolutely remarkable about this production is the magic Malik was able to perform using few contemporary documents – they were just not available. But home videos, talking heads, interviews and newspaper cuttings together with some clever images created by Malik himself brought the era to life.
Sadly, we won’t get to see any more magic created by Malik but at least we have Searching for Sugarman to remember him by (and an obscure little bit of South Africa’s past).