Bang-Bang Club

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This article is about the photojournalist group. For the 2010 biopic about them, see The Bang Bang Club (film).

The Bang Bang Club was a group of photographers and photojournalists active within the townships of South Africa between 1990 and 1994, during the transition from the apartheid system to government based on universal suffrage. This period saw much black on black factional violence, particularly fighting between ANC and IFP supporters, after the lifting of the bans on both political parties.

Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek, and João Silva were the four associated with the name, although a number of photographers and photojournalists worked alongside them (such as James Nachtwey and Gary Bernard). A movie about the group, directed by Steven Silver and starring Taylor Kitsch, Ryan Phillippe and Malin Åkerman, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.[1]


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.[2][3]


Two members won Pulitzer Prizes for their photography. Greg Marinovich won the Pulitzer for Spot News Photography in 1991 for his coverage of the killing of Lindsaye Tshabalala in 1990. Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer for Featured Photography in 1994 for his 1993 photograph of a vulture that appeared to be stalking a starving child in southern Sudan.

In popular culture[edit]


In 2000, Marinovich and Silva published The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, a book documenting their experiences.


Dramatic feature[edit]

A film adaptation of Marinovich and Silva's book was shot on location in Thokoza township by South African documentary film-maker Steven Silver.[4] Marinovich worked as a consultant on the film[5] which starred Ryan Phillippe as Greg Marinovich, Taylor Kitsch as Kevin Carter and Neels Van Jaarsveld as João Silva.[6]


A documentary entitled The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.

A documentary entitled When Under Fire: Shoot Back! premiered at the Denver Film Festival in November 2014. [7]


The Bang-Bang Club are referenced in the 1996 Manic Street Preachers song "Kevin Carter" that features the lyric "Bang-Bang Club, AK-47 Hour." The album "Poets and Madmen" by Savatage is inspired by the life of Kevin Carter.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Ian (2010), "The Bang Bang Club premiere - 35th Toronto International Film Festival",, retrieved 2012-04-07 
  2. ^ Philip, Rowan (24 October 2010). "War photographer maimed in blast". Times LIVE. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "Support Joao Silva Photojournalist". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Akerman & Phillippe Join Bang-Bang Club". Empire Online. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "South Africa's Bang Bang Club goes Hollywood". BBC News. 4 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Akerman, Phillippe & Kitsch Join Bang Bang Club". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "When Under Fire: Shoot Back!". 
  • Marinovich, Greg and João Silva. The Bang Bang Club. Basic Books: United States of America, 2000.

External links[edit]