Hearing the news of Malik Bendjelloul’s passing was devastating.
Back in ‘07 when we finally licensed Rodriguez’s catalog after years of begging and pleading I felt like I had climbed a mountain. Then I met Malik Benjdelloul. Reissuing a record is one thing. Making a film is an entirely different beast and far more complicated. Malik had incredible talent, unyielding focus and determination to reach his dream, and most importantly he was one of the good people.
In ’08, I remember Rodriguez telling me about a Swedish filmmaker who wanted to make a documentary about his life. I laughed. How could anyone make a feature length doc about a man who was endlessly mysterious, didn’t really like to do interviews, whose story had no archival footage and very few people who could help in the retelling, among other countless roadblocks. Then I met Malik. It was backstage at Joe’s Pub in September 2008 before Rodriguez hit the stage for his first ever New York City show in celebration of our Cold Fact reissue. Malik had an unwavering confidence about him. In retelling, this confidence would make him sound cocky or jerky somehow, but Malik was not even close to being that. He had this serene certainness about him that was hard to deny. Almost a zen-like vibe. I quickly became a believer.
Every now and then, he would send over a rough cut of Searching For Sugar Man, each version improving dramatically from the last. In 2011, he asked ‘what do you think of the latest version?’ I replied: ‘It’s really good.’ Malik: “Yes, but is it good enough to win an Oscar?’ I chuckled a little saying ‘it’s good but not sure it’s an Oscar winner.’ He continued to painfully craft and sculpt and wouldn’t give up until he achieved what he set out to do.
I really can’t imagine what the man would’ve done next.
Malik, thanks for being in our lives, and thanks for all you did for Light In The Attic.
If you have a vision, stick with it.
Look around and hug family and friends because when they’re gone they’re gone.
Our hearts go out to Malik’s family. Thanks for creating such a kind, lovely human being.
Malik, may you rest in peace.
- Matt Sullivan, Light In The Attic Records