Tuesday’s suicide of Malik Bendjelloul, director of the Best Documentary Feature Oscar winner Searching For Sugar Man, became a topic at two Cannes press conferences today. At this afternoon’s session with the competition jury members, fellow Scandinavian director Nicolas Winding Refn called it “a very tragic affair. I read about it this morning. He was a wonderful filmmaker, and I feel very sorry for what he’s left behind. It’s a terrible thing. Life is a beautiful gift.” Another of this year’s jurors, Mexican actor-director Gael Garcia Bernal also was shaken up by the news. “I met him last year at the Oscars,” he said. “It’s very shocking news. I am very sad that it has to end like that.”
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UPDATED, 2:58 PM: Malik Bendjelloul‘s older brother Johan told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet today that the filmmaker’s death was a suicide.
PREVIOUSLY, May 13: The Oscar-winning filmmaker behind Searching For Sugar Man was found dead today in Stockholm. Malik Bendjelloul was 36. No cause of death was reported, but local police told the newspaper Expressen that it was not being treated as suspicious. Bendjelloul won the Academy Award for Best Documentary last year for Sugar Man, about a personal search for the reclusive musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. He recorded a pair of LPs in the early 1970s as Rodriguez that went nowhere in the U.S. but were huge and influential in South Africa. But Rodriguez was unaware of the albums’ overseas success, and he faded completely from public view for decades. Searching For Sugar Man is about fans’ personal search to find him. Bendjelloul directed, produced, edited and co-wrote the pic, which opened Sundance in 2012 and went on to win the Audience Award. The film also would score documentary honors from the DGA, PGA, WGA, BAFTA, NBR and many other groups and festivals.
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