DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 25min
DIRECTED BY: Malik Bendjelloul
Lost, found: Rodrigeuz
The history of mysterious 1970s American singer-songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodrigeuz is a fairy-dusted folk tale. Rodrigeuz wrote like a dream and sang like a soul in torment, with record producers in Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul’s enthralling documentary reverentially describing him as “right on” and “[a] prophet.” His two albums, 1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming from Reality, did no business in the US, yet in apartheid-oppressed South Africa, Rodriguez became a huge underground star, selling albums by the truckload. And then, so urban lore had it, he killed himself onstage.
The facts, as revealed by Benjelloul to the balladic soundtrack of Rodriguez’s haunting lyrics, are both more prosaic and downright amazing. Unaware of his overseas fame, the self-effacing artist gave up on a music career to become a Detroit construction worker, which is what he was doing in 1997 when two dogged South African fans tracked him down. His is a story of Lazarus rising, working dexterously towards a strange and wonderful climax that is the chimerical stuff of music and myth.