Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Searching for Sugarman" with Malik Bendjelloul and “Sixto” Diaz Rodriguez (2012)

Malik Bendjelloul and “Sixto” Diaz Rodriguez both play themselves in this fascinating true story about the vagaries of fame and fortune. The story begins in 1969 with the recording and release of Sixto’s first album, which didn’t do much here in the States. His second album also met the same fate in America. Still driven to play music, Mr. Rodriquez became a staple in his home town, often seen walking with his guitar, making the rounds of local bars, playing for the simple joy of playing. He had moved on with his life, working at various construction jobs to support his family, even as his recordings were selling like gold in Australia and South Africa, Most people thought that he was dead.

Malik Bendjelloul was a journalist, working in South Africa when he first heard of Rodriguez and his tremendous following. He began to research the story of the man behind the music, as well as find out how he died. Through interviews with a record store owner in South Africa, he was able to trace Rodriguez to his home town. And that’s when he got a big surprise. “Sixto”, as he is called by his family; he was the 6th child born to Mexican immigrants who came to the U.S. during the 1920’s; was still alive and playing in the evenings at local bars.

And, in a nutshell, Mr. Bendjelloul, at this point, heads to America to meet him. From there the story takes on a life of its own. If “Sixto” was dead; or at least presumed to be so; what had happened to his royalties?

I was first alerted to this movie when I saw the coming attractions recently and have been waiting for the release of this film ever since. It opened in Los Angeles and New York on Friday, but is still not in the Charlotte area. I have been listening to some of Rodriguez' music for about 3 weeks now, and his spirit is amazing. It leaps from the recording and into your soul, it’s that inspiring. This is one movie I am actually looking forward to seeing.

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