Tuesday, 25 June 2013

LIFE STORIES: Two award-winning documentaries take on fascinating subjects with revealing results

BEHIND THE MUSIC: With a pair of unforgettable albums, Coming To Reality and Cold Fact, the mystical Mexican-American rocker Sixo Rodriquez gave the world songs remarkable in their profound simplicity and memorable, introspective strains -- but very little of the man behind the music and the mystery. Fortunately for documentary buffs and Rodriquez fans (legions of whom reside in South Africa), the makers of 2012's Searching for Sugar Man, a BAFTA and Oscar-winning piece of investigative journalism, go in search of the truth and manage to uncover the real story, a truly amazing one. Above all, what director Malik Bendjelloul captures is a fascinating portrait of honour and humility and the measure of an iconic musician whose timeless songs and messages of hope and humanity resonate deeply and deserve to be more widely known. And, for the record, it's about time someone produced a docu-film of this kind to shed some light on the life and legacy of Peter Tosh. 

LEARNING CURVE: Don't let the title fool you: Waiting for Superman is a serious piece of work, perhaps best regarded as a probing examination of the American public-education system and how its flaws impact the lives of everyone, but especially African-American and Hispanic students and parents, educators and policymakers. A winner of a 2010 Critic's Choice Award, it delivers valuable insight that I'm sure could be of use to stakeholders in the Jamaican school system. As directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), also its engaging narrator, Superman is not just riddled with voices of concern and complaint, it aims (and succeeds) in offering a road-map to solutions for fixing the loopholes and minimizing the startling dropout statistics, even as it vividly highlights the frustrations of Black parents. Still, it's a hopeful and well-made piece that compellingly reminds us that education is not only fundamental, it's absolutely paramount in a child's development.

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