Last night, Jody and I sat down and watched the next movie in our Netflix envelope. We often don’t know what it is, though we set the list ourselves, it is usually a surprise which title arrives. The movie was “Searching For Sugar Man”, a film recommended to me by a friend who viewed it at a film festival. Over the course of the next 90 minutes an evolution of emotions rolled over me like a Zamboni smoothing the ice of a hockey arena. This story set me at peace.
In this documentary about an artist named Rodriguez, director Malik Bendjelloul unfolds a sort of mystery. Rodriguez lived in Detroit, an aloof man who worked hard-labor jobs and recognized by many locals as a loner, a rogue soul wandering the streets from job to job and place to place. In the late 1960’s he began playing gigs in local bars and was discovered by some music executives. To make a long story short, these music executives saw something great in him, recorded a couple albums they felt were “Dylan-like” and became amazed when they completely flopped. Rodriguez was dropped from his music label and slipped into relative oblivion soon after.
What happens next in the story is incredible. The filmmaker takes you to South Africa, where at some point, a copy of Rodriguez’ first album, Cold Fact, found it’s way to Cape Town. South Africa toiled in the throws of Apartheid during this time, and through this album, people found an anthem to their revolution. His music spread throughout South Africa, nourishing the fortitude of a nation of people thirsty for words to lead them out of an oppression that had left them panting for a different life. Half a million albums sold. In the mid 90’s, a journalist decided to discover the real story of a man who inspired a revolution, but whom nobody knew in his own country.
I’m going to stop telling this story and encourage you to watch this film. I’ve linked the trailer to the film at the end of this post. I don’t want to continue the butchering of an already beautifully told story, but must say, that this is one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever heard and seen. The smile on my face for about the last 45 minutes resonated a dull pain through the upper reaches of my cheek bones.
Recognition is something we all desire. It is a form of connection. To be recognized is to be acknowledged, a sort of acceptance from others. People value what you have done, what you stand for. The recognition in this film reminds me of our place in our lives. If you have passion about something, walk your passion’s path in life and then find some recognition for walking that path…well, then, that will be most beautiful. Don’t you think?
Find the time to watch this film…you will be very glad you did!