The producers of Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man have paid tribute to director Malik Bendjelloul who died this week aged 36.
Searching for Sugar Man producer Simon Chinn, of Red Box Films, said: “I felt so fortunate when Malik walked into my life, with his charm, optimism, boundless energy and total lack of guile. Now he is gone it feels like a very bright light has been snuffed out.
“As a filmmaker he was an inspiration - someone who, despite his relative inexperience, was driven by a passion and determination to do justice to the great story he had found and to prove to those who had doubted he could do it, of which there were many, wrong.
“How he proved them wrong! I feel deeply honoured to have gone on this journey with him and I simply can’t believe I will never see his smiling face again. His loss will be felt for a very long time.”
Executive producer John Battsek, of Passion Pictures, said: “The news today is unbearably tragic, our true and great friend Malik Bendjelloul has gone.
“A man so kind and gentle and harmless whose journey with us seemed sprinkled with magic dust from day one, it is indescribably painful for all of us whose lives he touched here at Passion to think that the journey is now over. Just too sad.”
Oscar-winning director Bendjelloul, who also co-wrote, edited and produced the award-winning documentary was found dead in Stockholm on Tuesday night, according to Swedish police.
No cause of death was released but police said there was no crime suspected in relation to the filmmaker’s death.
Searching for Sugar Man was Bendjelloul’s only credit as a director but it was a staggering start to a seemingly promising career.
Centred on the improbable (but true) tale of US singer-songwriter Rodriguez, the film explored how the musician became a cult hero and bestseller in South Africa during Apartheid despite barely selling any records in the US.
The film, which was directed, produced, edited and co-written by Bendjelloul, received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 where it won the audience award and special jury prize.
It went on to win prizes all over the world including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and the BAFTA for Best Documentary Film.
Screen spoke to the promising director ahead of his Oscar win in which he talked about having “a long list of ideas” for future projects. [Click here for full interview].
Born in Sweden, Bendjelloul acted on television as a child in SVT show Ebba och Didrik in 1990 before studying journalism and TV production. He went on to direct TV documentaries about and with Björk, Kraftwerk, Elton John, Sting and Rod Stewart before his move into features.