Malik Bendjelloul (14/9/77 – 13/5/14)


Tragically, Swedish documentary film-maker Malik Bendjelloul, age 36, took his own life.  Relatively unknown outside of Sweden where he originally worked as a public broadcaster before deciding to create documentaries about musicians such as Rod Stewart and Bjork he would shoot to international fame with his magnum opus, Searching for Sugar Man. Searching for Sugar Man tells the story or the hunt for the mysterious Rodríguez, a man whose music career never took off in America but became an almost mythical folk figure in South Africa (though he did tour Australia a few times in the late 70’s).


Malik died before his time, but his one piece of work was critically acclaimed and it’s fortunate he was alive to see it.  To give an example how loved it was have a look at its achievements:-

Searching for Sugar Man won the Best Documentary category at the 85th Academy Awards

The film also won the Best Documentary category at the 66th British Academy Film Awards on 10 February 2013.

The Directors Guild of America awarded the DGA Award for best documentary on 2 February 2013.

The Writers Guild of America awarded the WGA Award for best documentary.

The Producers Guild of America awarded the PGA Award for best documentary.

The American Cinema Editors awarded the ACE Eddie Award for best documentary.

It won the Guldbagge Award for Best Documentary at the 48th Guldbagge Awards.

It won The National Board of Review in New York on 5 December 2012.

The International Documentary Association (IDA) awarded “Searching for Sugar Man” Best Feature and Best Music at the 28th Annual IDA Documentary Awards on 7 December 2012 at the Directors Guild of America building, Los Angeles, California.

It also won Best Documentary during Critics’ Choice Awards and the Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Documentary of the Year Award.

Searching for Sugar Man won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best international documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. The film also won the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Durban International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Melbourne Film Festival, 2nd place Winner Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.

At the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam held in November 2012, “Searching for Sugar Man” won both the Audience and the Best Music Documentary awards.

Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) “Searching for Sugar Man” was awarded $50,000 (US) where the film shared the “Best of the Fest” audience award with the Chinese feature film “Full Circle”.

Best Film – Días de Cine Awards

Best Film – In-Edit Festival in Santiago de Chile

The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking has nominated “Searching for Sugar Man” for five awards, tying with “The Imposter” for the most nominations. Winners of the 6th Annual Cinema Eye Honors will be announced on 9 January 2013 as Cinema Eye returns for a third year to New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, New York.

Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking – Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn

Production – Simon Chinn

Graphic Design and Animation – Oskar Gullstrand, Arvid Steen

Debut Feature Film – Malik Bendjelloul

Audience Choice Prize – Malik Bendjellou


He may only have made one commercially successful film but the story behind making the film is almost as extraordinary as the film itself. Taking over 3 years and eventually losing his backers Malik had to finish the film using his iPhone, he is a great inspiration to anyone showing that determination and hard work can achieve almost anything. In a final note it’s a particularly sad loss for me, when I first saw his film I was in a particularly bad place and this movie really helped me start seeing things in a better light, I really advise anyone to go out and see it, it’s a truly inspirational story.

Rest in peace Malik you will be missed.

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