‘Searching For Sugar Man’ director Malik Bendjelloul committed suicide, family confirms

Swedish director died in Stockholm on Tuesday aged 36

Malik Bendjelloul, the director of Oscar-winning music documentary Searching for Sugar Man, has died, aged 36.

Police initially told the Associated Press that Bendjelloul had died at home in Stockholm but wouldn’t specify the cause of death. No crime is suspected in relation to the acclaimed director’s death.

However, Bendjelloul’s brother Johar told Swedish newspaper the Aftonbladet that his relative had struggled with depression and took his own life.

“Life isn’t always easy,” Bendjelloul’s brother told the Swedish paper. “I was with him all the time towards the end. I don’t know how to handle this. I just don’t know.” The family have asked to be left alone and to grieve in private.

Bendjelloul’s major breakthrough as a director came with the 2012 release of Searching for Sugar Man, which tells the story of American singer Sixto Rodriguez. A contemporary of artists such as Bob Dylan in the 1960s, Rodriguez’ star had waned prior to the film, which helped revive his career and launched the director to a number of prestigious awards. The film won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2013.

Speaking to Billboard after a gig at Detroit’s Masonic Temple Auditorium last night (May 13), Rodriguez paid tribute to the director: “It’s a shock. I just found out about it a couple of hours ago,” he said. “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.”

Having begun his career as an actor in the Swedish TV show Ebba and Didrik, Bendjelloul moved behind the camera and also made TV documentaries on Elton John, Rod Stewart, Björk and Kraftwerk in his home country.