Aspiring '70s folk rock musician Rodriguez never made it big. Despite critical praise, his albums bombed in the U.S., and he faded promptly into obscurity, leaving behind only urban legends of a gruesome onstage suicide. But somehow a bootleg copy of his album made its way to apartheid South Africa, where his antiestablishment message and distinctive sound resonated with the youth protest movement there, making Rodriguez an instant superstar. Decades later, two intrepid fans decide to investigate whatever happened to the mysterious rocker. While initially frustrated by a dearth of leads, they eventually trace his roots to 1970s Detroit and a producer named Mike Theodore, who drops a bombshell that completely changes the nature of their investigation.
Truly stranger than fiction, this story of a Mexican-American folk singer from Detroit and his unforeseen success spans decades and continents, and is aptly unraveled to the soundtrack of Rodriguez' own haunting original songs. Ultimately the fans uncover a convoluted and unbelievable true story of success, obscurity, politics, and the power of music itself.
Length: 85 minutes
Premiere: New York
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Screenwriter: Malik Bendjelloul
Producer: Simon Chinn, Malik Bendjelloul
Editor: Malik Bendjelloul
Director of Photography: Camilla Skagerstrom
Executive Producer: John Battsek
Composer: Original songs by Sixto Rodriguez, with additional score by Malik Bendjelloul
Co-Producer: George Chignell, Nicole Stott, Malla Grapengiesser
Sound Designer: Per Nystrom
Malik Bendjelloul has been directing music docs for 12 years with subjects like Kraftwerk, Bjork, Madonna, and U2. He recently directed a filmed concert with Prince.