BySarah Gibson, writer at
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Sarah Gibson

The brother of the late Malik Benjelloul, director of music documentary Searching For Sugar Man which won an Oscar in 2013, has said that he took his own life after a struggle with depression.

Johar Bendjelloul told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that his brother commited suicide at the age 36, saying:

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

Searching For Sugar Man tells the story of how U.S. singer Sixto Rodriguez became a superstar in South Africa without knowing about it. Copies of the singer's album Cold Fact had been an unofficial soundtrack to youth protests against apartheid in the 70s and 80s, but it was rumored that Rodriguez was no longer alive. He was eventually found in Detroit, where he was working in construction, and was persuaded to play a series of gigs in South Africa, where he was finally given the recognition he deserved.

Speaking about the death of Benjelloul, Rodriguez described the news as

A shock. I just found out about it a couple of hours ago. He was a very talented man and hard-working artist - he proved it by hitting an Academy Award his first time out... Rest in peace.

In addition to his Oscar, Searching For Sugar Man won a BAFTA, a Director's Guild award, a Producer's Guild award, a Writer's Guild award and the 2012 International Documentary Association award. No doubt, then, that Bendjelloul's death has come as a shock to many in the close-knit Swedish film community, and our deepest condolences go out to his family.

(Source: Deadline, Billboard)


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