Oscar-Winning 'Searching for Sugar Man' Director Sadly Dies at 36

May 13, 2014
Source: Deadline

Malik Bendjelloul

Following the sad news that Alien visual effects and creature designer H.R. Giger passed away, we have even more tragic news. Deadline has learned that director Malik Bendjelloul, who just won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2013 for the musically infused Searching for Sugar Man, was found dead in Stockholm today. No cause of death has been given, but local newspaper Expressen learned from the police that his death was not being treated as suspicious and no crime is suspected at this time. This is some truly tragic news for a young and gifted filmmaker who quickly climbed from Sundance buzz to Oscar glory.

Bendjelloul wrote, directed, produced, edited and composed addition score for his documentary that chronicled a personal search for reclusive musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, an unlikely and mysterious musical hero from the 70s who faded into obscurity. Due to Bendjelloul's documentary (which also won the Audience Award at Sundance along with accolades from DGA, PGA, WGA, BAFTA and National Board of Review) Rodriguez became popular again, and is currently touring the country. Who knows what future fame Bendjelloul might have found in the documentary world, but we're saddened that we will never see his career continue. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. Rest in peace.

UPDATE: We're sad to call your attention to an update from the Associated Press with word from Johar Bendjelloul, brother of the filmmaker, that Malik Bendjelloul unfortunately committed suicide. Apparently the director struggled with depression when he was younger. If you're struggling with depression and have thought about suicide, don't be afraid to speak out by calling The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Suicide is not the answer.

Find more posts: Movie News, Obituaries



Taken aback. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN was such a good documentary.

DAVIDPD on May 13, 2014


You don't just die at 36 unless you have s chronic Illness or your a drug addict, hope the Swedes figure this one out or they may need hire Salandër for this mystery...

shane willett on May 13, 2014


It seems like he jumped in front of a train... Tragic.

eRIC on May 14, 2014


Hi - could I ask how you heard that he jumped in front of a train? I do have a reason for asking, not just morbid curiosity. Thanks.

Zee on May 24, 2014


What a shame. I'm damn curious to find out how he died...

ali3000 on May 14, 2014


This is such a good example of depression as an illness and not something as many believe to be "just in your head." For someone to be so great at his art to win an Oscar and yet take his own life... So unfortunate. Thanks for adding the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Marc Callado on May 14, 2014


I found that documentary incredibly inspiring, a favourite from recent years, Rodriguez's attitude toward life came through really well in the film. Depression is a strange beast and incredibly crushing, powerful and all consuming, but we all have so much to live for. Here's an interesting quote from a radio interview where Bendjelloul touches on the subject of a long life: "Though, I wonder if I'm really going to make a documentary about the moon illusion /in which the moon appears larger near the horizon/. I thought at first that it would be a great idea. I would just go around to different cities around the world and take pictures of huge full moons when they go up over the Tower Bridge in London and the Christ figure in Rio de Janeiro and the pyramids in Cairo, but then I remembered that the moon is only full once a month. So I should just be able to shoot a picture of the month. And moreover, it may be cloudy that evening when it is full, and then I'd have to wait a whole month. I simply do not have the time. If life was ten times as long, I would gladly go out and take pictures of full moons. But, since this is not the case, then the full moons suddenly no longer feels sufficient urgent. It is strange, perhaps even sad, that you already at age 35 take decisions based on the knowledge that you will not do everything you want in your life, and therefore carefully must choose what the heck you should get involved in. But it is certainly also useful, it is also probably the same knowledge that can make you care about something, care for real. Like for example, the story behind this man. " (tune is playing)... This was Rodriguez with "I wonder".

Carpola on May 14, 2014

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