Tag Archives: Rodriguez

Cape Town sweetens Oscar awards list!

One of the best accolades for Cape Town is the news that ‘Searching for Sugar Man‘ is one of five films nominated for the Academy Awards in the Documentary Feature category, and that ‘Asad‘ has been nominated for Short Film (Live Action).

Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of Capetonian Sugar Segerman’s search for Seventies American rock star Rodriguez, who was more popular in South Africa than in any other country, and who ‘disappeared’.  Through an internet appeal, Segerman found Rodriguez and brought him back to South Africa for a series of concerts in the Nineties.  Swedish film producer Malik Bendjelloul heard about the Rodriguez story from Segerman, and made a documentary, which won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival when it was launched last year.  Not only has the documentary been nominated for an Oscar, but it also has been named Best Documentary Feature in the Critics Choice Awards, according to 2Oceansvibe. The bulk of the film is shot in Cape Town, and shows off our City’s icons such as Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Camps Bay beach, and the scenic Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, with the Twelve Apostles as a backdrop.  Segerman’s record shop Mabu Vinyls off Kloof Street is also featured.  We are surprised by the word for word copying without acknowledgement to the source in the media statement by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, about the role Cape Town plays in the documentary, from our first blogpost about the documentary.  Cape Town Tourism ignored the local release of the documentary on the cinema circuit four months ago, despite its focus on Cape Town, proving how out of touch it is with news about our city!  One can safely speculate that Mrs Helmbold and her PR and  Communications Manager Skye Grove have not seen the film!

‘Asad’ was produced by Capetonian producer Rafiq Samsodien, states the media release from Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, and tells the tale of a boy who struggles to survive in war-torn Somalia. The film was shot in Paternoster, and used Cape Town residents.  The film has already won acclaim at the Austin Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Rhode island Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival.

Just being included on the Academy Awards nominations list will boost cinema viewership of the two films, and therefore will promote brands Cape Town and Western Cape in the next two months.  It will also boost the Western Cape as a film destination, offering the services of producers, animators, directors, screenwriters, actors and cinematographers, said Minister Winde.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

‘Searching for Sugar Man’ movie about Rodriguez boost for Cape Town tourism!

‘Searching for Sugar Man’ is a recently released documentary about the 1970’s American singer Sixto ‘Jesus’ Rodriguez, who sold more records in South Africa than did the Rolling Stones at that time.  It tells the story of the search by two South Africans and their chance find of Rodriguez, against the backdrop of beautiful (if very ‘Seventies) filming of Cape Town’s icons, including Table Mountain, Camps Bay, Lion’s Head, the city centre, Signal Hill, and the ocean road alongside the Twelve Apostles.

Stephen Sugar Segerman from Cape Town was intrigued by the success of Rodriguez in South Africa, having sold 500000 records locally but appearing to not have made it internationally.  He wondered what had happened to Rodriguez, having heard a rumour that the singer had committed suicide.  At the same time journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom from Johannesburg was intrigued by the same question, and in the 1990’s he launched an investigation, to find out more about Rodriquez.  Segerman started a website, using the ‘Missing Persons’ milk carton device to request anyone with information about Rodriguez to contact him.  Bartholomew Strydom tried to trace the singer via the three local record distributors, paying royalties to Sussex Records in the USA.  Rodriguez’s lyrics of his two records were analysed, and this led them to a town called Dearborn, in Detroit, where the singer lived   One of the singer’s daughters saw Segarman’s website, and he received a call from her, and later from her father. The singer was overwhelmed to hear how famous he was in our country, without ever having been, having given up performing to become a construction worker, to survive financially.

The documentary tells the happy end of the Rodriguez story, in that the singer and his daughters were invited to South Africa to perform in 1998 at six sold-out venues (including the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town) around the country. Rodriguez returned to South Africa four times to perform for his local fans. Local writer Rian Malan was interviewed for the film, and he described how difficult it was to extract information from Rodriguez, reflecting his ‘mystery’ nature.  The film reflects how humble Rodriguez and his family were when they first arrived in Cape Town, surprised that the limousine awaiting them at the airport was for them, and expressing surprise at all the posters advertising his concert on the way from the airport.  It also is a reminder of our country’s censorship past, with TV banned (until 1976), and the SABC banning some of Rodriguez’s songs, the offending ones being scratched on the LP in the SABC library, to make them unplayable.  Rodriguez’s music became the ‘anthem’ for unhappy young South Africans, especially students, who were already rebelling against the political situation in the country, which had led to sanctions, and a freeze on international music acts visiting our country in the ‘Seventies.

One of Rodriguez’s daughters fell in love with the bodyguard looking after them on one of their Cape Town visits, they married, and now Rodriguez has a South African grandson!

Segerman (who has a record shop Mabu Vinyls on Rheede Street, off Kloof Street – photograph) is the key to Rodriguez now achieving the fame he deserved forty years ago. Segerman met Swedish documentary maker Malik Bendjelloul, told him the Rodriguez story, and that sparked his interest to make the ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ movie.   It debuted at the Sundance Festival, and won two awards.  Segerman has documented the search for Rodriguez.  If it had not been for Segerman’s keen interest in the mystery singer, assisted by Bartholomew Strydom’s investigative journalism, Rodriguez may never have had a second chance at fame, and Cape Town would never have featured in the Rodriguez story or movie!  With international distribution of the ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ movie, Cape Town has a fantastic international marketing platform, even if the images are very dated.

POSTSCRIPT 27/9: ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ has achieved critical acclaim. The new 2012 soundtrack with the same name as the movie has been released, and has made 13th position in the Swedish charts, and 24th in New Zealand.

POSTSCRIPT 25/10: It was announced today that Rodriguez will perform at Grand West on 20 February.

POSTSCRIPT 10/1: ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ has been nominated for an Oscar in the Documentary Feature category, it has just been announced, the best news for Cape Town!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage