ola stranger

5 Jul

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to Secret Screenings – the new(ish) arm of the incredibly popular ‘Secret Cinema’.

For the uninitiated (if there is anyone left out there that hasn’t heard of this great concept), at Secret Cinema you buy a ticket to a film but you don’t know what it is. There’s always a big interactive element to the experience, but you don’t know what it’s going to be and the only thing you know is that it’s going to be pretty special.

The screening last night was of ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ – a documentary about a musical legend from Detroit you’ve never heard of.

With a voice and sound that’s reminiscent of Bob Dylan fused with Nick Drake, yet completely individual, Rodriguez recorded two albums in the late sixties / early seventies which, although a critical success, sold barely any copies. Rodriguez was subsequently dropped by the label and he disappeared.

Yet somehow his albums made it to apartheid era South Africa, where the songs, protest themes and lyrics connected with those that opposed the regime. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez his records sold hundreds of thousands of copies, he inspired a generation of musicians and was literally more famous than the Rolling Stones (he never received a penny for any record sales).

The crazy thing about his huge fame was that no one knew anything about him and legend had it that he committed suicide on stage. This amazing documentary follows two South African fans searching for the Sugar Man and the unbelievable discoveries they made.

All I’ll say is that after we had the pleasure of watching this great film, we were treated to a very very special performance which practically blew everyone in the audience’s mind.


This is one of my favourite songs from Rodriguez – as they say in the doc, one of the saddest, most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear.

Sign up to @secretscreening and @futurecinema on twitter for future events.. And also make sure you go see this doc when it’s released.

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