Oscar-winning 'Sugar Man' director Malik Bendjelloul dies at 36

Malik Bendjelloul, director of Oscar-winning 'Sugar Man,' dies in Sweden; foul play not suspected

Malik Bendjelloul, who won an Oscar for directing the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man," has died in Stockholm at age 36.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Swedish police did not suspect foul play, the Associated Press reported.

"Searching for Sugar Man" chronicled the life, career and rediscovery of Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez. After releasing two LPs in the 1970s, he faded into obscurity. Over time a cult following built up around his music and, as shown in Bendjelloul's documentary, the musician was eventually found still alive and performing in Detroit. The popularity of the movie revitalized Rodriguez's career and reputation. 

The film was the feature debut for Bendjelloul, who had directed a series of music-related documentaries for television. "Sugar Man" premiered on the opening night of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it was a surprise sensation. It would go on to win awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guild of America and International Documentary Assn. It also picked up numerous critics prizes.

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics, who distributed "Searching For Sugar Man," said in a statement: "We first met Malik at the Sundance Film Festival for 'Searching for Sugar Man.' Much like Rodriguez himself, Malik was a genuine person who chased the world for stories to tell. He didn’t chase fame or fortune or awards, although those accolades still found him as many others recognized his storytelling.” 

In a 2012 interview with The Times, Bendjelloul said, "I was like, 'Wow, this is just the best story I ever heard.... This is so good, there must already be stuff,' but there were no films made."

In a 2013 Times interview just before the Academy Awards ceremony, Bendjelloul said, "The idea that this was my first film ... it feels like some kind of strange dream."

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