Jambo, Rodriguez: Searching for Sugar Man
By Arianna Smith
From director Malik Bendjelloul comes a documentary saga of the search for one of the most obscure Seventies era stars that spanned years and crossed cities, states, oceans and countries in pursuit of a musician that influenced an entire nation.
The story begins by telling the origins of Mexican rock and roller Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit born artist with modest beginnings and dreams of making it big. After a short and largely unsuccessful career in America’s big cities, Rodriguez practically vanished from the public eye and faded into the dusty obscurity of vinyl shops.
Even when his home country failed him, others such as Botswana, New Zealand, Australia and Zimbabwe embraced him. The documentary Searching for Sugar Man focuses on the region of South Africa, and a team of detective caliber men led by record store owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman who waded through hell and high water to find the artist that helped usher their generation out of apartheid, censorship, and discrimination.
Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary that tackles real life issues of depression, failure, and the struggle of the poor in major cities, but is full of determination and leaves the viewer feeling like they could accomplish anything if they try hard enough. The deep, soulful music in the movie is solely from Rodriguez’s three albums and lends a nostalgic air to the film. Segerman and his team trace down leads relentlessly and follow mysterious, thought provoking leads all the way to the happy ending. It gives all who see it a boost of confidence and pride for an inner city artist and the future of those trying to make a splash in Detroit.
Searching for Sugar Man is a testament to old time music and shows audiences that just because a second chance at a come back might be a little late in coming, it doesn’t make it any less uplifting when it arrives, and that talent never dies, or fails to inspire people for years later.