in Movies, Music

“Searching for Sugar Man” Documentary Review


The Story of a Rock Legend Who Didn’t Know He Was Famous

Searching for Sugar Man is the unbelievable true story of Sixto Rodriguez, a construction worker from Michigan who – unbeknownst to him – becomes a legend in South Africa despite his short-lived musical career in the States. Rumors abound that the elusive Rodriguez, who has all but virtually disappeared from the limelight, lit himself on fire on stage years ago.

But nobody knows what really happened to Rodriguez. And so, two fans from Cape Town, South Africa, Stephen Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, embark on a journey to uncover the truth about Rodriguez and how he was able to stay hidden for so long.

Photo: Red Box Films

The documentary is beautifully executed and its filmmaker, Malik Bendjelloul, does a fantastic job of walking us through Segerman and Strydom’s journey. The soundtrack for the film is all of Rodriguez’s songs from his first two albums (“Coming from Reality” and “Cold Fact” released 1970 and 1971) and an unfinished third album.

His music is definitely timeless and the comparisons to Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones are not unwarranted.

In South Africa, some of the interviewees explain how Rodriguez became a rebel icon for middle-class, anti-apartheid, white liberals during the 1970’s – with songs like “Establishment Blues”.

When we finally get to meet the man himself, Rodriguez is revealed to be a very humble and down-to-earth man who stays true to his values even when they bring him to South Africa to perform at outsold concerts packed with thousands of screaming, adoring fans.

You can purchase the soundtrack for the movie hereSearching for Sugar Man is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, against 5 Broken Cameras – which I review here.


  • Starring: Sixto Rodriguez
  • Directed by: Malik Bendjelloul
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Genre: Documentary