Searching for Sugar Man introduced me to Westdale’s pleasant 1920s style theatre, acquainted me with recent South African history and culture, and it familiarized me with an artist who has been tragically overlooked by history’s selective lens - until now.

Searching for Sugar Man finds a way to very creatively tell a simple story.

It forms an emotional connection with an audience that will usually have very little previous knowledge about the story, let alone any emotional investment.

The documentary explores the accounts of different individuals from both the States and South Africa as they undertake the challenge of discovering the whereabouts and history of Rodriguez, an American singer-songwriter from the early ‘70s whose music had a much postponed influence in South Africa during the Apartheid movement. The movie expertly weaves Rodriguez’s politically charged songs into the historical period the film outlines.

The film displays Rodriguez’s truly humble work ethic. Despite his two record releases, Rodriguez continued working at the local construction company, always proving that to him, the impoverished Detroit community comes first. At the end of the movie, live footage of Rodriguez performing in 1998 to thousands of ecstatic fans was a heart-warming display of the effect that this man’s music had in the country. Despite his recent success, he continues to avoid the limelight, always demonstrating his meek and likeable personality.

This movie was an extraordinarily expressive depiction of a story that needed to be told.  Its soundtrack, historical footage and interviews with people in Rodriguez’s life were deeply engaging and emotionally resonating. Search no more: this film deserves a watch.

By: Spencer Semianiw

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