The less you know about the subject matter of this film before seeing it, the better it is on watching – so I’ll steer clear of spoilers here and say you should definitely avoid the trailer beforehand if you can – but check out the 2012 British music documentary Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul – on general release in the UK now. Astonishing, moving, uplifting, and basically slightly crazy story about a musician, Sixto Rodriguez, discovered by influential producers in late 60s in Detroit, and the impact of his music in apartheid South Africa.
Also wonderfully baffling and thought-provoking. Its critics suggest that its documentary technique is flawed – its view too myopic – but this is undoubtedly a primary strength: unforced and with the lightest of touches, probably one of the most interesting insights in to (in no particular order) the music industry, repressive government control and censorship in apartheid South Africa, being a ‘beneficiary’ of that apartheid South Africa and the possibilities of change, fame and the fame industry, the city of Detroit – then and now – plus tenacity, humility, fandom, artistry, myth-making, choice … and particularly powerful in its sidelong glance into the unlikeliness of what it was that actually slipped through the gaps to make alternative possibilities viable. If a little oblique, nonetheless a gift for anyone interested in the mechanics of memorialisation, particularly in SA.