Oscar winner Malik Bendjelloul’s death a suicide

Swedish film director Malik Bendjelloul, whose documentary Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar last year, has killed himself, his family said, triggering tributes for a man who “chased the world for stories to tell.” He was 36 years old.

Police said Bendjelloul died late on Tuesday in the Stockholm area. His brother later confirmed local media reports that he had committed suicide.

“I can confirm my brother has taken his own life,” Johar Bendjelloul said in a text message to news agency Reuters.

Searching for Sugar Man, structured like a mystery, followed two South African journalists who tried to track down American singer Sixto Rodriguez after his disappearance from the public scene.

Rodriguez had failed to achieve fame in the United States but, unbeknown to him, had become a popular and influential folk icon in South Africa.


Searching for Sugar Man swept major awards from US directors, producers and writers guilds, and won audience and special jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

It helped make Rodriguez, now 71, better known in the US and led to a revival of his musical career.

Rodriguez told Billboard magazine after a performance in Detroit on Tuesday that the director’s death was a “shock”.

“He was a very talented man and hard-working artist – he proved it by hitting an Academy Award his first time out,” the singer and songwriter said. “My deepest condolences to his family. Rest in peace.”

Sony Pictures Classics, the film’s distributor, praised Bendjelloul’s modesty and passion for storytelling.

“Much like Rodriguez himself, Malik was a genuine person who chased the world for stories to tell,” the company said. “He didn’t chase fame, fortune or awards, although those accolades still found him as many others recognised his storytelling.”

Fellow directors mourned his passing.

“He made a great film and will be missed,” tweeted US filmmaker Michael Moore.

His former employer, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT, said it would run a memorial programme about Bendjelloul late on Wednesday.

Nicholas Wenno, a reporter at Sweden’s daily Dagens Nyheter, described the filmmaker as “a whimsical genius who saw the world in his own way, who seemed fuelled by atomic energy”.

“We are many that will mourn you,” said Wenno.

Bendjelloul was born in the town of Ystad near Malmo in southern Sweden, according to film database imdb.com.

He has directed television documentaries about rock singers Elton John, Rod Stewart and Björk and German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, the Swedish Film Institute said. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Pandemic cripples learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

Q&A Sessions: George Euvrard, the brains behind our cryptic crossword

George Euvrard spoke to Athandiwe Saba about his passion for education, clues on how to solve his crosswords and the importance of celebrating South Africa.

More top stories

Power shift at Luthuli House

Ace Magashule’s move to distance himself from Carl Niehaus signals a rebalancing of influence and authority at the top of the ANC

Trump slinks off world stage, leaving others to put out...

What his supporters and assorted right-wingers will do now in a climate that is less friendly to them is anyone’s guess

The US once again has something  Africa wants: competent leaders

Africa must use its best minds to negotiate a mutually beneficial economic relationship

Stern warning against Covid greets Mthembu’s death

The ANC has slammed conspiracy theorists and cautioned against showing complacency towards the deadly virus
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…