'Sugar Man' director Malik Bendjelloul reportedly committed suicide

'Searching for Sugar Man' director Malik Bendjelloul took his own life, his brother says
'I simply can't believe he is gone': producer of 'Searching for Sugar Man' on director's apparent suicide

The death of Malik Bendjelloul, the Oscar-winning Swedish director of the music documentary "Searching for Sugar Man," was a suicide, his brother has said.

Johar Bendjelloul told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that his brother took his own life at age 36 after a struggle with depression.

"I can confirm that it was suicide and that he had been depressed for a short period of time," he said, adding, "Life is not always so easy … I don't know how to handle it."

Bendjelloul's death on Tuesday was met with an outpouring of grief.

"As a filmmaker, [Bendjelloul] was an inspiration — someone who, despite his relative inexperience, was driven by a passion and determination to do justice to the great story he had found and to prove those he had doubted he could do it, of which there were too many, wrong. How he proved them wrong!" said Simon Chinn, producer of "Searching for Sugar Man," in a statement to The Times. "I feel honored to have gone on this journey with him, and I simply can't believe he is gone."

Sixto Rodriguez, the Detroit singer-songwriter who was the subject of Bendjelloul's documentary, told the Swedish newspaper Expressen, "Malik was a fantastic person." Rodriguez described Bendjelloul as "very friendly" and "unique."

"Searching for Sugar Man" chronicled the life, career and rediscovery of Rodriguez, who released two LPs in the 1970s before fading into obscurity. Over time a cult following built up around his music, and Bendjelloul's documentary traces the musician to Detroit and finds him alive and still performing. 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. A surprise hit at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the film would go on to win numerous awards, including the Oscar for documentary feature.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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