The Bang-Bang Club is a film adaptation of the autobiographical book The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War co-written by Greg Marinovich and João Silva who were part of the group of four photographers known as Bang-Bang Club, the other two members being Kevin Carter and Ken Oosterbroek.
The film portrasy the lives of four photojournalists active within the townships of South Africa during the Apartheid period, particularly between 1990 and 1994, from when Nelson Mandela was released from prison to the 1994 elections. Malin Åkerman plays the role of Robin Comley who does everything she can to publish the horrific pictures as portrayed by them.
The name “The Bang Bang Club” was born out of an article published in the South African magazine Living. Originally named The Bang Bang Paparazzi, it was changed to “Club” because the members felt the word paparazzi misrepresented their work. The name comes from the culture itself; township residents spoke to the photographers about the “bang-bang” in reference to violence occurring within their communities, but more literally, “bang-bang” refers to the sound of gunfire and is a colloquialism used by conflict photographers.
On 18 April 1994, during a firefight between the National Peacekeeping Force and African National Congress supporters in the Thokoza township, friendly fire killed Oosterbroek and seriously injured Marinovich. An inquest into Oosterbroek’s death began in 1995. The magistrate ruled that no party should be blamed for the death. In 1999, peacekeeper Brian Mkhize told Marinovich and Silva that he believed that the bullet that killed Oosterbroek had come from the National Peacekeeping Force.
In July 1994, Carter committed suicide.
On 23 October 2010, Silva stepped on a landmine while on patrol with US soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan and lost both legs below the knee. This is the second time he’s been injured in a warzone, with his first injury being hit by shrapnel in the face.
It was a truly stunning film, born from actual events and the incredible stories of these 4 brave people and those who interact with them. It’s a harrowing and moving story, and I can’t recommend the film highly enough.
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