Malik Bendjelloul was a creative genius, who inspired his colleagues with an acute sense of form and intelligent story-telling. His life in the media world started as a child actor. After media school he went on to work for production companies and later for Swedish Television’s “Kobra”, a culture-oriented magazine with an experimental touch.
One day he discovered the story that would change his life totally,
a mystery surrounding a half-forgotten music legend, Sixto Rodriguez. Malik left his secure environment at Svt and went off on a shoestring budget, researching and filming in South Africa and the US. He wanted to unwrap the mystery of a musician who had inspired a generation of young South Africans to protest against an unjust system and then had completely disappeared out of sight.
As a newcomer in the world of documentary filmmaking, Malik found it difficult to raise support for “Searching for Sugar Man”. When he completely ran out of funding, he ended up filming for a period with his smartphone. But he never gave up his dream of making the film.
With international help he managed to send a rough-cut to the Sundance Festival. It caught the eyes of the jury and subsequently went on to win the competition. From then on, the film had an unparalleled run of success for a Swedish documentary, playing in cinemas all over the world and winning an Oscar in 2013.
Malik ended his life a year later, but his legacy lives on. The foundation and the fund that carry his name are meant as an inspiration for young filmmakers, who dream of making stories live and reach a global audience. Their documentaries can also make a difference and inspire the next generation of filmmakers. That way Malik’s name will live on.