Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul won the Oscar this year for best documentary with his debut feature, “Searching for Sugar Man," about a mysterious Detroit musician named Rodriguez who was unknown in the U.S. but a 1970s legend in South Africa.
Despite his recent success, Bendjelloul's brother, Johar Bendjelloul, confirmed to a Swedish newspaper that the 36-year-old director had taken his own life Tuesday in Stockholm.
Johar told the AP that his brother “struggled with depression.”
“Life isn't always easy,” Johar continued. “I was with him all the time towards the end.”
A novice filmmaker when he started filming "Sugar Man," Bendjelloul edited the film in his Stockholm apartment and paid for most of it himself. The indie documentary has gone on to make nearly $4 million at the box office.
"Bendjelloul spent four years working on the documentary, which was initially planned as a seven-minute piece for Swedish TV," explains The Wrap. "The project took on a life of its own before Sony Pictures Classics spent mid-six-figures to acquire the film out of Sundance in 2012."
Bendjelloul, who was able to track down and interview "Sugar Man" Sixto Rodriguez for his film, told The NY Times of the experience: “This was the greatest, the most amazing, true story I’d ever heard, an almost archetypal fairy tale. It’s a perfect story. It has the human element, the music aspect, a resurrection and a detective story.”
Simon Chinn, who produced “Sugar Man,” told the AP that he was shocked by the death.
“It seems so unbelievable,” he said. “I saw him two weeks ago in London. He was so full of life, hope and optimism and happiness, and looking forward to the future and future collaborations. We were talking about working together and talking about specific ideas, so the idea that he is no longer is just too hard to process.”
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