Last night, Malik Bendjelloul took home the Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category for his film Searching for Sugar Man, about an American folk musician named Rodriguez who never made it big, then disappeared and was rumored to have committed suicide. Unbeknownst to himself, Rodriguez became a huge star and inspiration in South Africa.
When Bendjelloul was "just" an Oscar nominee earlier this month, he spoke with Talk of the Nation about the mysterious musician and his fame during apartheid, and even now, in South Africa. Bendjelloul told Host Neal Conan that when he asked people there if they had heard of Rodriguez, they would react as if he asked them whether they knew of The Beatles. The director also described interviewing the very private Rodriguez, how he would turn his back to the camera during their interviews just as he would turn his back to the audience during live performances.
During the interview, Conan asked what the Academy Award nomination meant for him, Bendjelloul responded that apart from the Nobel Prize given in his native Sweden, the Oscars are the only award known by people worldwide. He had just ordered his tux and planned to sit nervously in the theater on Oscar night.
Congratulations on your win, Bendjelloul - you won our hearts earlier this month with that NPR love.