Report: Director Bendjelloul committed suicide

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Report: Director Bendjelloul committed suicide
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Director Malik Bendjelloul of the Oscar-winning documentary 'Searching for Sugar Man' attends Meet The Filmmaker at the Apple Store Soho on April 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Malik Bendjelloul attends the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar party at Sunset Tower on February 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Filmmakers Simon Chinn (L) and Malik Bendjelloul, winners of the Best Documentary Feature award for 'Searching for Sugar Man,' pose in the press room during the Oscars held at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Presenter Ben Affleck greets filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn (unseen) as they accept the Best Documentary - Feature award for 'Searching for Sugar Man'. onstage during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Director Malik Bendjelloul (2nd from L) arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Director Malik Bendjelloul arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Director Malik Bendjelloul departs the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
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STOCKHOLM (AP) - Malik Bendjelloul, director of the acclaimed "Searching for Sugar Man" documentary, was widely known for his enthusiasm, kindness and high spirits - so the news Wednesday that he had taken his own life shocked colleagues around the world.

Bendjelloul's brother Johar Bendjelloul told Swedish daily Aftonbladet that his 36-year-old younger brother committed suicide Tuesday after struggling with depression for a short period.

"Life is not always simple," Johar Bendjelloul was quoted as saying, adding that receiving the message that his brother had committed suicide was the worst thing he had ever experienced.

"I don't know how to handle it. I don't know," he said.

Bendjelloul rose to international fame in 2013 when his debut feature film, "Searching for Sugar Man," won an Oscar for best documentary. The film tells the story of how Detroit-based singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who had flopped in the United States, became a superstar in apartheid-era South Africa without knowing about it.

British film producer Simon Chinn, who produced "Searching for Sugar Man" together with Bendjelloul, said he was shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his friend's passing.

"It seems so unbelievable," Chinn told The Associated Press over the telephone. "I saw him two weeks ago in London. He was so full of life, hope and optimism and happiness, and looking forward to the future and future collaborations. We were talking about working together and talking about specific ideas, so the idea that he is no longer is just too hard to process."

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

SVT's culture chief Eva Beckman said his death was incomprehensible.

"One always says it is unbelievable when a young person dies, or when anybody dies, but it is even more unbelievable with Malik," she said Wednesday. "Malik was simply such an incredibly alive person."

Beckman also praised Bendjelloul's strong storytelling skills and his willingness to experiment with new formats.

"What really set him apart from everybody else was his passion for storytelling. He was a fantastic storyteller," she said.

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