Malik Bendjelloul (1977 - 2014)

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Malik Bendjelloul (AP Photo/TT, Anders Wiklund, File) Malik Bendjelloul in the Journalists Memorials Photo Gallery Enlarged Photo
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Malik Bendjelloul, the acclaimed Swedish film director behind the Oscar-winning music documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" has died. He was 36.

Police spokeswoman Pia Glenvik told The Associated Press that Bendjelloul died in Stockholm late Tuesday, but wouldn't specify the cause of death.

She said no crime is suspected in relation to the film maker's death.

"Searching for Sugar Man," which tells the story of how American singer Sixto Rodriguez became a superstar in South Africa without knowing about it, won the Oscar for best documentary in 2013. It was the first time a Swedish film won an Oscar since Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" in 1984.

The soft-spoken, unassuming Bendjelloul worked as a reporter for Sweden's public broadcaster SVT before resigning to travel the world. He got the idea for "Searching for Sugar Man" — his first feature film — during one of his trips, but it would take him more than four years to complete the film.

Bendjelloul was born in 1977 to Swedish translator Veronica Schildt Bendjelloul and doctor Hacene Bendjelloul and acted in Swedish TV-series "Ebba and Didrik" as a child during the 1990s. He studied journalism and media-production at the Linnaeus University of Kalmar in southern Sweden before joining SVT where he worked as a reporter on the culture program Kobra.

Bendjelloul's sudden death came as a shock to many in the close-knit Swedish film community.

"This terrible news has put us all in a state of shock," Swedish Film Institute spokesman Jan Goransson told the AP.

"Malik Bendjelloul was one of our most exciting film makers, which the Oscar award last year was a clear proof of," Goransson said.

Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas, who traveled with Bendjelloul to Hollywood when he received the Oscar, described him as a modest, but very determined man.

"He was an incredibly talented storyteller," Pallas wrote. "He had the strength of a marathon runner; to work on his film for so many years and sometimes without money, then you have a goal."

Bendjelloul is survived by his parents and brother Johar Bendjelloul. Funeral arrangements weren't immediately known.

MALIN RISING, Associated Press



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