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In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career with only two well received but non-selling albums. Unknown to Rodriguez, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon and inspiration for generations. Long rumored there to be dead by suicide, a few fans in the 1990s decided to seek out the truth of their hero's fate. What follows is a bizarrely heartening story in which they found far more in their quest than they ever hoped, while a Detroit construction laborer discovered that his lost artistic dreams came true after all. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Director Malik Bendjelloul traced all the illustrations on oven paper as a mock up for the 3D animations he never could afford to have made. Thus the oven paper illustrations made it to the final cut. See more »
During the credits there is a spelling error - It says "Mabu Vinly" instead of "Mabu Vinyl" See more »
What he's demonstrated, very clearly, is that you have a choice. He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain, and he transformed it into something beautiful. He's like the silkworm, you know? You take this raw material, and you transform it. You come out with something that wasn't there before. Something beautiful. Something perhaps transcendent. Something perhaps eternal. Insofar as he does that, I think he's representative of the human spirit, of what's possible. ...
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This Is Not A Song, It's An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues
Written by Rodriguez (as Sixto Rodriguez)
Courtesy of Hey Day Entertainment, LLC by arrangement
with Light in the Attic Records & Distribution, LLC See more »
A KVIFF viewing of this demystifying documentary of a miracle would never find a copycat in the digital-era, Rodriguez "The Sugar Man", an American minstrel in the 1970s who has sold a sensational figure of records in South Africa while being exclusively oblivious in USA, and when rumor says he died in a suicide attempt while performing it on stage, the story seems to reach its cul-de-sac. But two South Africans, take the onerous task to dig out the mystery behind (including the director himself), and eventually the truth has been disclosed in a quite satisfying way both on screen and off screen.
First of all, Rodriguez's songs (from his albums COLD FACT 1970, COMING FROM REALITY 1971, and a piece from his never-released third album) have prevailed in the entire film's narrative, which after a first-time listening, feels more affinity with Bob Dylan's Folk Rock tunes, most of which pertain to lower-class or working-class self-inspection, definitely have their own mark of time.
The poignancy has been simmered halfway through when the story has a dramatic twist and leads to the second half of the film into a different angle of revelation, an enigmatic fetish figure's condescendence into the real world. And a poetic license has to be introduced to his personal life as de-iconization is always a tough call to make.
Then, about what prompted Rodriguez's case so unique? The film seems to be a bit withdrawn in unraveling the real reason behind it (a deliberate conspiracy theory is never in the picture), indeed, even there were merely 40 years before, we already have forgotten how things stand at then, and this could be a scarier discovery.
By the way, the film has a very audience-friendly approach, and if you are a music enthusiast, this film will be a delectable choice to be enchanted by the pure magic of music.
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