As the film world mourns the death of Malik Bendjelloul, the Associated Press reports that the 36-year-old director of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” committed suicide after struggling with depression.
The Swedish director was found dead in Stockholm on Tuesday.
Bendjelloul’s brother Johar Bendjelloul told Swedish daily Aftonbladet that his younger brother had taken his own life.
“Life is not always simple,” Johar Bendjelloul said. “I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t know,” he said.
The director won the Academy for Best Documentary last year for “Searching for Sugar Man,” about his search for the musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. Bendjelloul directed, produced, edited and co-wrote the film, which initially premiered at Sundance in 2012 where it won the Audience Award. The film, which was the director’s first, also won awards for Best Documentary from the DGA, PGA, WGA, BAFTA, NBR and other festivals.
When Indiewire interviewed Benjelloul at Sundance, the director couldn’t believe the attention the film was receiving and was thrilled that it would finally earn Rodriguez the acclaim he deserved. “I can’t actually begin to grasp the fact that this film might change
his [Rodriguez’s] life. Most of all, I’m happy for those people that will now listen
to the album.”
British film producer Simon Chinn, who produced “Searching for Sugar Man” together with Bendjelloul, told the Associated Press that he was shocked by the sad news.
“It seems so unbelievable. 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,” said Chinn.
The Swedish director had started out as a child actor before becoming a reporter for Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT. He later left to backpack around the world.
“One always says it is unbelievable when a young person dies, or when anybody dies, but it is even more unbelievable with Malik,” said SVT’s culture chief Eva Beckman. “Malik was simply such an incredibly alive person.”