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'Searching for Sugar Man' director Malik Bendjelloul dies; Rodriguez reacts

Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas
Malik Bendjelloul and Rodriguez at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas
Getty Images

Oscar-winning director Malik Bendjelloul died of an apparent suicide in Stockholm on May 13, 2014, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Bendjelloul, who was Swedish, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for 2012's "Searching for Sugar Man," which chronicled the filmmaker's search for Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit singer/songwriter from the 1970s who goes by the stage name Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who never made it big in America, became a superstar in South Africa years after he disappeared from the public spotlight. "Searching for Sugar Man" was Bendjelloul's first feature film.

Bendjelloul's brother Johar told AP that Malik, who had been struggling with depression, committed suicide. An official cause of death has not been announced, but Stockholm police have told the media that they do not suspect that someone else killed Malik Bendjelloul.

Johar Bendjelloul said about his brother's death, "Life is not always simple. I don't know how to handle it. I don't."

Meanwhile, Rodriguez (who performed a concert in Detroit at Masonic Temple Auditorium on May 13, 2014) told Billboard after the show that the death of Malik Bendjelloul was "a shock."

Rodriguez added, "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."

"Searching for Sugar Man" producer Simon Chinn, who also won an Oscar for the movie, commented to AP about Malik Bendjelloul's death: "It seems so unbelievable. He had everything to live for. He was so full of life, hope and optimism and happiness, and looking forward to the future and future collaborations. The idea that he is no longer is just too hard to process."

Besides an Academy Award, "Searching for Sugar Man" won several other prizes at other events, including the World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Critics' Choice Awards. The movie was screened at numerous other film festivals in 2012, including the South by Southwest Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival.

"Searching for Sugar Man" is available on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and digital download.

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