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28 February 2013

Searching for Sugar Man’s Oscar success ‘excellent news’

On 24 February, Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, giving Cape Town exposure to audiences around the world.

Searching for Sugar Man won the 2013 Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature

Searching for Sugarman’s Oscar coup is excellent news for tourism to Cape Town, raising awareness of the destination through beautiful cinematography and giving unsurpassed insight into a time and people in South Africa that is at once universally identifiable and delightfully quirky. – Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.

South Africans were jubilant on hearing the news that Searching for Sugar Man had won the Oscar for the Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards, which took place on 24 February in Hollywood, United States.

The movie is a classic case of the underdog (in this case American singer/songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodriguez) finally getting the recognition he deserves. South Africans are no strangers to Rodriguez and, in fact – as the movie shows – we have been and continue to be his biggest fans.

Searching for Sugar Man is a British/Swedish collaboration directed by Malik Bendjelloul. The film first premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

The documentary tells the story of the search for Rodriguez by two South African music-lovers, journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman. While Rodriguez's musical talents weren’t acknowledged in the United States, his albums were very popular in South Africa. But after releasing Cold Fact and Coming from Reality in the early 1970s, the talented songwriter disappeared from the public eye. The film shows Strydom's and Segerman's journey on what their website calls ‘The Great Rodriguez Hunt’.

The film takes the viewer on a journey to desolate Detroit, where Rodriguez has lived most of his life, and back to Cape Town. Beautiful footage of Cape Town provides a showcase for the city, and Segerman’s shop, Mabu Vinyl, has the potential to become a tourist attraction for music-lovers. In fact, there are unofficial plans at present to create a ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ tour of Cape Town.

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, was thrilled when she heard of Searching for Sugar Man's Oscar success: 'Searching for Sugar Man’s Oscar coup is excellent news for tourism to Cape Town, raising awareness of the destination through beautiful cinematography and giving unsurpassed insight into a time and people in South Africa that is at once universally identifiable and delightfully quirky.

'Authentic storytelling and word of mouth are the most powerful mediums for converting an audience into a participant, an armchair traveller into a real live visitor. This movie really is a triumph, a work of passion, and we are thrilled that they took home the honours they so richly deserved.’