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Rodriguez documentary "Searching For Sugar Man" gets Oscar nod

For Journal Register Newspapers

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Daniel Day Lewis, Hugh Jackman...and Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez.

The 70-year-old singer-songwriter isn't up for an Academy Award per se, but "Searching For Sugar Man," the acclaimed documentary about his largely unknown career, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature on Thursday, Jan. 10.

"Searching For Sugar Man" will be up against "5 Broken Cameras," "The Gatekeepers," "Hot to Survive a Plague" and "The Invisible War" at the ceremony, which takes place Feb. 24 in Los Angeles.

Directed by Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, "Searching For Sugar Man" won awards for Best Feature and Best Music at the 28th Annual International Documentary Awards in December and won the Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation award at the Cinema Eye Honors on Wednesday, Jan. 9, in New York. It also received prizes at the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival, and at festivals in Russia, the Netherlands, China and Australia.

Rodriguez released a pair of albums during the early 70s, neither of which sold well, and he spent decades in obscurity, working construction jobs in Detroit. "Searching For Sugar Man" documents the discovery of his music in South Africa, where a pair of fans tracked him down in Detroit and brought him to their country to perform, launching a resurgence that led to the re-release of his albums in the U.S. and a slew of media attention, including late-night talk show appearances and a segment on CBS's "60 Minutes."

"I thought I'd never heard a better story in my life and would never hear a better story," Bendjelloul said in June. "It sounded like someone had written a script -- like 'Cinderella,' only 'Cinderella' didn't have such a good soundtrack."

Earlier this year, Rodriguez called the newfound notoriety "pretty overwhelming" but gave all credit for the film's success to Bendjelloul. "I don't feel like I had anything to do with it, really," Rodriguez said. "It's Malik's masterpiece. I'm just pleased his getting the recognition he deserves."

Rodriguez next performs on Jan. 25 at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival at Hill Auditorium.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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