Malik Bendjelloul, the Swedish filmmaker who won an Oscar for directing the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, was found dead Tuesday in Stockholm. He was 36.
According to The Associated Press, police spokesperson Pia Glenvik confirmed the death but did not specify the cause, though she ruled out crime as a possible reason.
Born in Sweden in 1977, Bendjellou appeared as a child actor on the local television series Ebba och Didrik and went on to study journalism and media production at the Linnaeus University of Kalma. He later took a job as a reporter at a public broadcasting station in Sweden, eventually quitting to travel the world. That’s when he stumbled on the idea for the documentary that would define his too-short career in filmmaking.
Searching for Sugar Man detailed the true story of Rodriguez, a largely forgotten, would-be ’70s rock icon whose debut album bombed as he drifted into obscurity and music mythology while also becoming something of a phenom in South Africa. In the doc, Bendjelloul followed two South African Rodriguez die-hards on a hunt to find out what actually happened to the soulful singer.
“In South Africa he’s as famous as Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones,” Bendjelloul told EW at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. “They talk about him like that. He’s just as famous and as popular.”
After premiering at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and picking up the coveted Audience Award and Special Jury Prize, Bendjellou’s film went on to receive critical accolades and a host of awards from the WGA, DGA, and PGA, culminating in an Oscar nomination and win.
Below is Bendjellou’s brief acceptance speech at the 2013 Academy Awards, which he accepted with producer Simon Chinn.
“It’s the best story I’ve ever heard,” he said in the same interview. “I thought it was so beautiful that I knew I had to make a film about it.”