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"Searching For Sugar Man" Director Malik Bendjelloul Dead at 37

Dyandra Morris

by Dyandra Morris

Published May 14, 2014

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The Academy Award-winning director of Searching For Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul, has passed away at the age of 37.

According to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Bendjelloul's brother reports that the death was a suicide. "I can confirm that it was suicide and that he has been depressed for a short time," he said.

Johar Bendjelloul, who is a radio journalist, told Aftonbladet, "Life is not always so simple. I've been with him all the time towards the end... It's the worst. I do not know how to handle it. I do not know."

Last year Malik won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for his film Searching for Sugar Man. It also won a string of awards, including honors from Britain´s BAFTA, the Directors Guild of America, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the Writers Guild of America, the Guldbagge Award, and other film associations. The film told the story of Sixto Rodriguez, a musician who became famous unbeknownst to him. Rodriguez released two albums (Cold Fact and Coming from Reality) in the early '70s, but then gave up on music. It was not until after he stopped making music that his albums became hits, especially in South Africa.

In an interview with Billboard, Rodriguez stated that the news was a shock to him. "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. My deepest condolences to his family. Rest in peace."

According to the Associated Press, Searching for Sugar Man's producer, Simon Chinn, saw him two weeks ago in London. Chinn's comment on Bendjelloul's state was contrary to what his brother stated. “He was so full of life, hope and optimism and happiness, and looking forward to the future and future collaborations.”

Swedish authorities have yet to release confirmation on Bendjelloul's official cause of death.

Source: Aftonbladet, Billboard & AP

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