The Bang Bang Club (film)

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The Bang-Bang Club
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteven Silver
Produced by
  • Adam Friedlander
  • Daniel Iron
  • Lance Samuels
Screenplay bySteven Silver
Story by
Music byPhilip Miller
CinematographyMiroslaw Baszak
Edited by
  • Ronald Sanders
  • Tad Seaborn
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • 15 September 2010 (2010-09-15) (TIFF)
  • 6 May 2011 (2011-05-06) (Canada)
Running time
106 minutes
  • Canada
  • South Africa

The Bang-Bang Club is a 2010 Canadian-South African biographical drama film written and directed by Steven Silver and stars Ryan Phillippe as Greg Marinovich, Malin Åkerman as Robin Comley, Taylor Kitsch as Kevin Carter, Frank Rautenbach as Ken Oosterbroek and Neels Van Jaarsveld as João Silva. They portray 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.

It is a film adaptation of the 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 tells the story of four young men and the extremes they went to in order to capture their pictures in the days prior to the downfall of apartheid in South Africa.[1]


The Bang-Bang Club members
Other roles


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).[2][3] Entertainment One has distribution rights for Canada. Tribeca Film acquired American distribution rights. It was released theatrically in the US on 22 April 2011.[4] According to The Numbers, the film was only shown in nine theatres in the US where it earned $124,791.[5]


Judith Matloff, a veteran foreign correspondent and contributing editor at Columbia Journalism Review[6] said in her review of the film that it is "the latest Hollywood production to get the role of the conflict correspondent wrong".[7] Matloff wrote: "But the reporters and photographers stationed in South Africa at the time were also compassionate human beings who exposed themselves to danger because they wanted to record history. This doesn't particularly come through in the film. Instead, Silver plays to the Hollywood stereotype of journalists as heartless outsiders. After a fun day taking pictures of black people massacring each other, the lads go back to the white suburbs and party — the implication being that the bloodshed is a game to them."[7]

Matloff worked with Marinovich and knew Silva, as she was a member of the Johannesburg press corps in the early 1990s. She wrote in her article for the Columbia Journalism Review of her experiences, "The film depicts the photographers as reckless thrill-seekers, swaggering into newsrooms like rock stars and canoodling with babes, when not jumping into cars to chase 'Bang Bang' (violence)". In her review Matloff said that Marinovich had disassociated himself from the film version. "It has the same title but it is not the same story. It's not my life. I don't see the character as me."[7]

Miriam Brent in her review for The Guardian said "Frustratingly, though, while the film poses pertinent questions about when to put the camera down, it shies away from delving deeper into these moral dilemmas and the emotional strain faced by combat photographers. Instead we're introduced to a testosterone-fuelled world in which dodging bullets is just another way of getting kicks before the partying starts. … It's just a shame the accomplished cinematography isn't matched by a script that lets the true bravery and accomplishments of combat photojournalists shine through, as they deserve."[8]

Some more reviewers critiqued the missing of the real characters of the members of the Bang-Bang Club in the film. João Silva was asked in an interview for the French magazine Paris Match about the film. His answer described Michel Peyrard with the words:

Plus tard, le livre est devenu un film, dans lequel le photographe ne se reconnaît guère, et João a poursuivi sa route. Seul, désormais.

[Later, the book became a film, in which the photographer hardly recognizes himself, and João continued his journey. Alone now.][9]

The Bang Bang Club received mixed reviews. It holds a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 47 reviews, while the audience rating is 60% (as of September 2019).[10]


  1. ^ Ippolito, Toni-Marie (16 September 2010). "Steven Silver & Frank Rautenbach (The Bang Bang Club) Interview". Tribute. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  2. ^ "The Bang Bang Club". Toronto International Film Festival. 2010. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  3. ^ Evans, Ian (2010). "The Bang Bang Club premiere - 35th Toronto International Film Festival". Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  4. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (29 March 2011). "Tribeca Fest Makes 'The Bang Bang Club' and 'Last Night' Available on VOD". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 16 April 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  5. ^ "The Bang Bang Club (2011)". The Numbers. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Judith Matloff". LinkedIn. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Matloff, Judith (August 2011). "Bang Bang Off Target". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  8. ^ Brent, Miriam (25 April 2011). "The Bang Bang Club – review". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  9. ^ Peyrard, Michel (31 August 2013). "João Silva: La passion intacte". Paris Match (in French). Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  10. ^ "The Bang Bang Club". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 September 2019.

External links[edit]