Unless you're a South African there's little chance you've ever heard of Sixto Rodriguez. He only made two albums, and both bombed except in South Africa where the singer became a household name among the biggest bands in the world. When I saw the trailer for this documentary in early 2012 I was instantly hooked - great music and an interesting premise; who wouldn't want to know what happened to cause this singer to take his life on stage one day. Needless to say, this is a powerful, moving, story and it's recent Academy Award win for Best Documentary is testament to how great this release is.
Sixto Rodriguez (most commonly known simply as Rodriguez) was a musician in America in the 1970's however, despite being critically well received, his two albums failed to sell in any quantity in America and he was soon dropped by his record label. On the other side of the world however Rodriguez's albums became extremely popular in South Africa where his songs struck a chord with anti-apartheid protestors and he became more popular than the Rolling Stones selling over half a million records, and possibly more.
With a runtime of 86 minutes this is a film which keeps a brisk pace over its runtime but is littered with snippets from 14 of Rodriguez songs. It's this music that really clicks - it truly is inspirationally wonderful music that deserved to turn Rodriguez into a superstar when the albums released in the 1970s. The film touches on many topics including how Rodriguez was discovered, the release and failure of his two albums, his popularity in South Africa and importance to the music scene in that country, Apartheid, and much more.
Towards latter part of the film those looking for Rodriguez contact the Co-Producer of Rodriguez's first album "Cold Fact" and subsequently get contacted by one of Rodriguez's daughters in America - and as a result the vault to Rodriguez's life is unlocked with many questions about who the man was finally being answered - including how he died - with some surprising results.
There is only one single audio track on this disc and no subtitles. Fortunately the soundtrack is a rather cracking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which for a documentary may sound over the top but really helps Rodriguez's music sound it's absolute best, and it's fantastic. As you can imagine the soundtrack is generally very front heavy, although the surrounds are given some life on occasion which was nice to hear.
Within the first few minutes of the film (from 3:15 to 3:51) there is a tremendous thunderstorm shown and (assuming you have a decent sub-woofer) the bass levels will have your entire room shaking with the rumble of the thunder - it's fantastic stuff, but there are a couple of other similar instances of jaw-dropping moments throughout this documentary.
Making Of (30:49/HD): Running for half an hour this documentary looks at the process of creating this film and includes plenty of information about the process of interviewing people, having finances pulled before finishing the film, and the resurgence in Rodriguez since the documentary was completed including the premiere at Sundance. Definitely worth a look.
Theatrical Trailer (2:23/HD): This is the Theatrical Trailer for "Searching for Sugar Man" and it gives a great idea what to expect from the film - but it contains some of the big moments so you may want to avoid to remain spoiler free (like all trailers really).
Madman Propaganda (2:23/HD): After the anti-piracy trailer we have trailers for "Paul Kelly: Stories of Me" (2:17), "Your Sister's Sister" (2:29), "Bernie" (2:09), and "The Hunter" (1:48).
Review By: Dave Warner