The Bang-Bang Club

After a successful run overseas The Bang-Bang Club, the story of four young combat photographers who documented the violent dying days of apartheid, releases in South Africa on 22 July. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and the events that inspired it, from the director, the actors and the photographers themselves.

The shots seen around the world

Before the world knew who Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek and João Silva were, everyone knew their photographs. Before the world truly understood the horror of apartheid, its violence had been exposed by the work of these extraordinary young men.

On 15 September 1990, Marinovich took a series of photographs for Associated Press which included the image of an ANC supporter hacking at a burning man in Inhlazane, Soweto. The photograph won Marinovich a Pulitzer Prize. Then in May 1994 Carter won the Pulitzer for a picture first published in The New York Times of a starving Sudanese girl who collapsed on her way to a feeding centre while a vulture stalked her nearby. But on 18 April 1994, nine days before South Africa’s first democratic elections, the Bang-Bang Club were covering the violence in Thokoza township when Oosterbroek was killed in the crossfire between hostel dwellers and South African riot police. Marinovich was wounded that same day. Two months later, in July, Carter took his own life.

“I am depressed ... without phone ... money for rent ... money for child support ... money for debts ... money!!! ... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners ... I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”– From Kevin Carter’s suicide note

  • Watch The Edge, a 23-minute Special Assignment documentary on the Bang-Bang Club, on YouTube.

Synopsis

The Bang-Bang Club was the name given to four young photographers, Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) and João Silva (Neels van Jaarsveld), whose photographs captured the final bloody days of white rule in South Africa. The film tells the remarkable and sometimes harrowing story of these young men, and the extraordinary extremes they went to in order to capture their pictures. Robin (Malin Akerman) is their photo-editor, who looked out for them, protected them and made sure their photographs were seen across the world.

Based on the book by Marinovich and Silva, The Bang-Bang Club tells the true story of these four young men, recounting their relationships with each other and the stresses, tensions and moral dilemmas of working in situations of extreme violence, pain and suffering. It is also the story of the final demise of apartheid and the birth of a new South Africa.

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Production notes

Steven SilverWritten and directed by Steven Silver, The Bang-Bang Club is a Canada-South Africa co-production from producer Daniel Iron of Foundry Films Inc. and Lance Samuels and Adam Friedlander of Out of Africa Entertainment, distributed worldwide by E1 Entertainment. It was shot in and around Johannesburg, South Africa.

Steven Silver is an award-winning writer and director whose credits include acclaimed documentaries such as The Last Just Man and Diameter of the Bomb, and the animated documentary TV series The Dark Years. He executive produced the dramatic feature Shake Hands with the Devil and has won over 30 international awards including an Emmy, a Writers Guild Award and multiple Gemini and Audience Awards at film and TV festivals around the world.

“I think they shone a light on a war in which over 20 000 died in four years. If they hadn’t taken those pictures, the world would never have known of the terrible price that was paid in what was apartheid’s last battle.” – Writer and director Steven Silver

Almost a decade ago, Silver was approached with the idea of making a film based on The Life and Death of Kevin Carter, a 1994 Time magazine article about the 33-year-old South African photojournalist who became internationally known for his Pulitzer-prize winning photo of a vulture coolly eyeing an emaciated Sudanese child and then, a year later, killed himself.

“It was an intriguing story,” said Silver. “I was in South Africa at the time, shooting another film, and I looked up Greg Marinovich and João Silva and we met. They talked to me about how this wasn’t just a story about Kevin, but a story about four young men who had banded together in the beginning out of safety, and then after a period of time developed a reputation as these remarkable photographers, eventually nicknamed the Bang-Bang Club. It sounded like a great film and that it was true was an added bonus.” Silver optioned the rights to their life story a couple of years before the publishing of The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, written by Marinovich and Silva.

As a student in Johannesburg, Silver had been caught up in the liberation movement in South Africa, working first for the student movement and then for the United Democratic Front (UDF), the internal movement in the struggle against apartheid aligned to the external African National Congress (ANC) . “Because I lived through the events of this film and because it was part of my own coming of age, I have a deep-rooted connection to this place and its history,” he says.

“That’s what makes this an unusual story for these four young men. I could identify with their rite of passage and many of the issues they were struggling with: what did they owe to this place they were born into and to what extent should they put themselves in harm’s way, given what was happening at that time.

“After [Nelson] Mandela’s release in 1990, it felt like paradise had arrived in South Africa,” Silver said. “It was a moment of magnificent celebration. Within 10 months of his release, you had the first signs of this strange violence that began to seep into the streets of South Africa’s townships. At first, no one quite knew where it was coming from and no one quite knew who was behind the violence. A car would spray machine-gun fire at a line of people standing at a taxi rank or there would be midnight massacres. Then there was this strange war between people living in the migrant worker hostels and the residents. While there had been tension between those two communities in the past, no one knew why suddenly it had flared up.”

Silver sees The Bang-Bang Club as a coming-of-age story for these four young men who were in the early stages of adulthood, navigating that rite of passage through perilous waters.

“They just happen to be learning the rules of the game that was taking place in a very dangerous time,” he said. “People started noticing that the more the negotiations between Mandela and the apartheid government succeeded, the more the violence would increase. Someone mapped the spikes in the violence to significant breakthroughs in the negotiation process. It was only two or three years in that people started talking about a third force, a group of people who were actually orchestrating this violence.

“Why was it that rifles and machine guns were finding their way into the hostels and suddenly people were being well armed with the kind of weaponry found in the South African Defence Force? Of course, all of that was eventually confirmed by the fact that the violence was being fermented and orchestrated by certain parts of South Africa’s government in an attempt to weaken the ANC at the negotiating table.” The four young photographers walk bang into the middle of this brutal conflict.

“These photographers were quite modest about what they think they’ve achieved,” said Silver. “But the truth is they did not have to do what they did. They could have shot boxing matches and beauty pageants. They were brave and courageous. But also, I think, for them, it was fun. It was an adrenalin-filled roller-coaster ride and they loved it. At least until they didn’t. I don’t think they see what they did as noble. While in the end, what they did was important and brave, I think for them most of the time, it was a rush.”

Executive producer and long-time champion of the project Neil Tabatznik has an extended history with Silver and recalls the evolution of the film. “In 2001, Steven brought me this idea to do a movie about the Bang-Bang Club. The initial attraction was the Kevin Carter story, how Kevin was totally freaked out by the impact of his photo of the Sudanese infant and how divorced from reality he’d become by what he had been doing. The script has evolved since that point and Greg Marinovich is now the central character. And with Steven being a documentary director who has won every award under the sun, I put up the seed money.”

Working from the source materials of the Time magazine article on Carter, and the book, which had more to do with Marinovich and Silva, Tabatznik decided that Silver was the best person to write this script. “He’s got the feel for being South African, he’s got the history, and he’s has what it takes to make a movie of international relevance.”

It was a long road from inception to principal photography, full of stops and starts, but underlying every set back was a monumental reward. Tabatznik, who is originally from South Africa but emigrated in the 1970s, long before the events which take place in the film, is completely satisfied with the result of this journey. “The actors are extraordinary, the script is extraordinary and it’s guided by Steve who has been carrying this vision for at least eight years,” he said. “Steve has done justice to the book, the period and the story.”

With an early script in hand, Tabatznik and Silver took the project to Laszlo Barna, then president of Barna-Alper Productions, who came on as an executive producer. At the time, Daniel Iron of Canada-based Foundry Films was consulting for the film, but ultimately joined the team as a full producer.

In addition to the fact that Iron was interested in working with Silver as a director, he saw that there was something inherently cinematic about the material. “This is a rare quality,” Iron said. “On the one hand, it’s an action movie and incredibly entertaining, but on the other, it asks some interesting questions of mediation of image and moral ambiguity. At the same time, it tells a story through these photographs that is really important.

“I remember some of these photos from the time, while living in Canada. I was horrified and shocked. It was these photos that brought this story to me thousands of miles away. I realised back then the impact of these photos was so great, and then reading the story about how morally complex it was to get these photos, there’s a depth here, many other layers, yes there is definitely material to explore.

“The discomfort in what we were shooting adds depth to this,” Iron continued. “You could see the scars coming to the fore from the people in the townships. But they did embrace our presence there, which was quite heartening. To shoot this movie callously and not understand that you are dealing with some of the people who lived through those situations, that you are dredging up horrific memories for them, is really upsetting, especially in service of our film. It helps the film, for all of us, to be in those situations and understand the ethics of what we are doing as a way to get into the actual movie itself.”

Lance Samuels, along with Adam Friedlander from Out of Africa Entertainment, made up the South African component of the co-production. “I was young at the time these events were all happening,” Samuels said. “And even I had no idea this was taking place. The story was well hidden even within Africa. We didn’t realise what was happening between the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) and ANC, and the extent of the police involvement. What these photographers showed the world was incredible.”

During filming, Samuels was grateful to have both Marinovich and Silva on set. “Having conversations with them and the information they gave was mind-blowing. This was pivotal to adding authenticity to the film and allowed us to accurately portray the events that took place. It was also amazing to have the people who lived through these events as our background extras as they were not simply acting; they were reliving these dramatic events, which can be seen in the major crowd scenes that take place in the film. It was a humbling experience watching the extras recreate events they had lived through and shooting in the exact locations where the events took place added further authenticity to the film.”

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In the photographers’ words: Greg Marinovich and João Silva

“I always try to keep in mind that to get those pictures of drama and mayhem, somebody has had a very bad day.” – João Silva

Greg Marinovich and João Silva, the two surviving photographers at the centre of the story and the authors of the book The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, spent a great deal of time on set during principal photography. They both spoke at length about their experiences in the early 1990s.

“It was a civil war that our country was descending into and we wanted to document it, but we didn’t want to document politicians’ speeches. We wanted to see how it affected people on the ground. I’d had a brief foray in ‘89 when there was like a kind of proxy war in Katlehong, the Taxi War. In 1990, I didn’t go immediately. I think two or three weeks past, if not longer, and I was trying to ignore it. And that’s when I went into Soweto. I had to document this part of apartheid though I really wasn’t into doing the violence. I didn’t like the violence at all; I was very scared.” – Greg Marinovich

“I had just arrived in Alexandra [township in Johannesburg]. I was working for Reuters as a freelancer sending them pictures as I found them. I’d parked my motorcycle and was heading towards the hostel, and Graeme Williams, an African staffer for Reuters, came walking, accompanied by another guy, who turned out to be Greg. I got introduced to Greg and from then on we pretty much struck up a friendship. Greg was so approachable, and instantly friendly and helpful. Ken I met out in the field and he barely took notice of me the first time we met because Ken was the big star, but we also struck up a friendship. With Ken it was his persona. He embodied the image of the photojournalist. I knew of the man and all his accomplishments. And I met Kevin through Ken. With Kevin, it was his spirit. You know, Kevin was amazing – manic in many ways and very engaging. He was either very high or very low, but when he was high it was amazing. He had energy for everything.

“We all happened to have a passion for the same thing, so you know those friendships just grew and they also grew outside of work. It was just cruising out there; it was also a social life outside of the work environment.” – João Silva

“The first time I witnessed a killing through photography was the first time I’d witnessed a killing, period. The whole morning I’d been cleaning up my late mum’s furniture and restoring it. I kept listening to the news and eventually I thought, I’ve got to do this. I got into the car and I went to Nancefield [Hostel in Soweto]. I can’t remember specifically if the news said there was fighting in that area, or if I just followed the major routes until I saw activity. I stopped on the bridge and could see, on the ANC-supporting side, several journalists with the comrades, and then right down below the bridge alongside the railway line, there were Inkatha with red headbands and the spears and all the equipment. So I thought, ‘Well there’s no point, I’ll never sell a picture to anyone, probably all the journalists in town are on the other side. I’ll go down on this side, and why is there nobody there?’ So, I went down and they said go to the other side. I said no, I want to be here. I followed them back to the hostel, shooting a couple of pictures and just talking about the situation and getting them familiar with me. Suddenly whistling started from higher up in the hostel and everyone got up and ran. I said, ‘What’s going on? What’s going on?’ and they said, ‘Nothing, nothing.’ I thought, ‘Yeah, nothing like hell.’ So I followed them and they got up to a door to a dormitory, trying to force their way in, yelling ‘Open! Open!’ I asked, ‘What’s going on?’ and they said, ‘Ah, he’s been shooting at us,’ and I thought ... yeah, yeah alright. I hadn’t heard a single shot all afternoon. So I was pretty scared and they were shooting away and I was thinking I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think I expected that I would eventually be allowed in and there would be a guy who’d been killed inside. Suddenly the doors flung open and this guy just ran out and they were after him with me after him as well. He hadn’t gone 30, 40 yards before he tripped and fell. I can’t remember if he was tripped or if he tripped. This group of more than a dozen men were just stabbing and hitting and I was there with them, within touching distance, photographing the whole thing. It was quite an introduction to news photography.” – Greg Marinovich

“In those kind of chaotic situations, for my part, I go into autopilot in terms of the f-stop and all of that, it’s just something you don’t really think about. You’re just so focused and wrapped up in what’s going on around you. You have to be professional and you have to be human at the same time, you know? And sometimes it gets a little murky.” – João Silva

“I had a 20mm, a 50mm macro lens, and one long lens at that stage. I was a bit too tight on the 50 and the really strong stuff was on the 20, and it suited that scene. I mean, the 20 is an ugly lens, truthfully speaking, but it has that feeling of being right in it because you were. Later I learned that of course the spatial organisation of a wide angle lens makes things appear more real visually because you are closer. You have an entirely different experience and you photograph in an entirely different way than you would with a long lens where you’re not feeling, hearing, smelling.” – Greg Marinovich

“When Greg was shot and Ken killed, I took pictures of Ken dead at my feet. At the same time I carried Greg into an armoured vehicle … With Ken’s death it was a little bit different because he was my friend, but at the same time, if you’re out there recording the deaths of people you don’t know, and that’s okay, then you’ve got to be equally strong to do it to your own friend. But, we’re journalists. That’s what we’re there for, you know? When we go into these hard situations, we’re there to try and record that reality and show the world that reality … So it’s a very complex thing. Very complex … There’s no rewind button. So what you’ve done, you’ve done. You just have to live with it. Be it shame. Be it pain. Be it whatever. You’ve got to live with it and learn from it. It’s you, your thoughts and memories, and in a way I think that’s your penance and your redemption.” – João Silva

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The actors: Creating a narrative of a true story

Coming from a distinctly documentary background, Silver had to reconcile the journalist instinct and the filmmaker instinct. “When you are telling a story about real people and you are trying to create a narrative film about events that actually happened, you are serving two masters,” he said. “One is obliged to serve the truth. And at the same time, one must make a film that people are going to watch which means it needs to honour the age-old rules of storytelling.”

One of the keys in this process is finding the right actors to convey both the story and the truth of the story. To portray Greg Marinovich, one of the two photographers still alive, Silver wanted Ryan Phillippe. But he almost didn’t get him – for a paradox of a reason.

ryan-phillippe

“I struggle with the idea of the invasion of people’s personal tragedies.” – Ryan Phillippe on playing Greg Marinovich

When first considering this project, Phillippe confessed to having a strained relationship with the camera – particularly the still camera. “I was intrigued by the script, but I had reservations. Over the past 10 years of being famous, my relationship with the camera has not been a pleasant one,” he said. “I tend to flinch or hide when confronted by one, so that was something I had to get past. And also I struggle with the idea of the invasion of people’s personal tragedies and a lot of the time what a combat photographer does has a lot to do with is getting into the face of someone who is dealing with some extreme tragedy. I wrestled with whether I wanted to make a film about that.”

But the power of the story and the script held sway. He watched The War Photographer, a documentary by combat photographer James Nachtwey, who shot alongside Marinovich, Silva, Oosterbroek and Carter in the early 1990s, and it made a crucial difference. “There was this moment with a bereft woman who had just lost a child, and Nachtwey was two feet away from her with a camera in her face. I realised that had there not been a camera in her face, no one would ever know why or how her child died.” This was breakthrough: Phillippe said yes to the part.

“Ryan is a director’s actor,” said Silver. “He has an extraordinary discipline and seriousness about the way he approaches his craft. What’s interesting about Ryan is that getting the South African accent right, which is notoriously difficult, is more than just having it sound phonetically accurate. He had to inhabit the culture of that accent. What was surprising is how South African he feels. In fact, you forget about his accent which is the highest praise. It doesn’t feel worked at all.”

taylor-kitsch

“It’s roles like this one that is the reason you get into acting.” – Taylor Kitsch on playing Kevin Carter

By contrast Taylor Kitsch, who plays the doomed Kevin Carter, launched himself at the part. “I took this role to be able to bring life into someone who left such an incredible mark. Its roles like this that is the reason you get into acting, the kind of roles that you are scared to play which makes them the kind that I want to get.”

Knowing that everyone remembers Carter for the Pulitzer-prize winning photo, the drugs, and the suicide, Kitsch did not want to play the character for his last moments, but for all the moments which lead up to it. “I concentrated on the life he did live. Kevin was very moment-to-moment; people loved to be around him, but there was also a passion in him. He was an artist. In every scene, I took risks. I wouldn’t give Steven the same take twice. Any actor will tell you that’s the best of the best. It gives you the opportunity to really explore because anything goes with Kevin. I’ve never been more challenged in my life, physically, as an actor, or as a person.”

Silver readily acknowledged that Kitsch was working without a template for his character. “What’s amazing about Taylor is that he has brought this character to life in spite of Kevin’s drug use, his mania, and his perpetual agitation. What Taylor has done is make him someone we can believe in.”

Carter’s decline was something Kitsch decided to show in his physicality. He dropped an alarming 30 pounds for the role, running eight to 16 miles a day, six days a week. “I don’t think I was this small even when I was homeless in New York,” said the actor, who slept in subways when he first arrived in Manhattan years ago. “And the mindset is crazy. I’ve never gone through this stuff.”

malin-akerman

“[Robin] said she became numb to the violence that she looked at, going through photos of people being burnt alive and kids getting chopped up.” – Malin Akerman on playing Robin Comley

Malin Akerman plays Robin Comley, the newspaper photo editor and the “den mother of the group”, said Silver. “She cared for them, she had a great affection for them, and she looked after them. Malin has brought all of that to the role.”

“I got to meet Robin Comley, the character I play, and she’s an incredible woman,” said Akerman. “While the boys were out there shooting what was going on, she put her foot down and said we have to put these images in the paper. The world has to know what was going on. The police came to the office so many times wanting to find the photographers because of what they were covering. She truly is a fantastic woman, so cool and laid back, such a hippie, but at the same time, she is stone cold when it comes to what she believes in. I met with her at The Times where she works now and she took me through her day-to-day work.”

These days, newspapers are all digital, but back in the 1990s, it was slower and much more labour-intensive for photographers and photo editors who worked from film, with darkrooms, developing film from negatives, and pouring over contact sheets with loops on light tables. “Robin said the vibe is completely different now, not nearly as hectic,” said Akerman. “She told me that back then, she was the calm in the storm for the guys; there was so much adrenaline, so much tension. She said she became numb to the violence that she looked at, going through photos of people being burnt alive and kids getting chopped up.”

Rounding out the cast are Frank Rautenbach and Neels van Jaarsveld, two South African actors playing Ken Oosterbroek and João Silva respectively.

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“When I first met Robin, the real woman, she looked at me and there was a flash of recognition in her eyes and she broke down and wept. – Frank Rautenbach on playing Ken Oosterbroek

Rautenbach, who was born in East London and then moved to Europe at the age of 19, was familiar with the photographs of Oosterbroek and his colleagues through international papers. “For me this film is a real picture of what South Africa was like at that time, and it tells the story from the perspective of people living in the country whereas usually it’s told from a political prisoner’s point of view. And it’s interesting that it’s white guys capturing these images of mostly black violence in the townships and the old government’s involvement in it all.”

In playing this role of Ken Oosterbroek, who was nominated the South African Press Photographer of the Year three times and won numerous World Press awards, Rautenbach’s task was different than Kitsch’s Kevin Carter. Oosterbroek was cut down in his prime and the character had to be portrayed going full out to the very end.

“I found out he was not an aggressive person, but rather exceptionally intense. I am trying to capture his concentration and professionalism. I had conversations with Alf Kumalo, the legendary South African photographer, and he said Ken’s whole demeanour was about bravery. When he’d get into it, he was so focused and almost excited about by what was about to happen, that his sole mission was to get the best photographs out there.”

The true test for the actor came when he met Robin Comley for the first time – the photo editor who knew Oosterbroek. “When I first met Robin, the real woman, she looked at me and there was a flash of recognition in her eyes and she broke down and wept. I felt terrible while at the same time realizing that there was enough of Ken in me to go with my convictions. That gave me the confidence to let go and be Ken.”

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“He was so close, blood on the lens, blood on yourself, your friends being shot. And he still does it.” – Neels van Jaarsveld on playing João Silva

Neels van Jaarsveld’s copy of The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War is, by now, almost completely highlighted. “It was a very popular book when it came out, and I’ve read my copy several times. I was in Johannesburg when it was all happening, but I was much younger,” he said. “I’ve played real people before, but never anyone who was still alive – and I could talk to them. Playing João Silva is a dream comes true. I had a cold sweat before I actually met him. He’s very hardcore, but he’s got an amazing heart. I have a lot of respect for him and he’s been helping me a lot.”

To prepare for the role, Van Jaarsveld, along with his co-stars, learned to use pre-digital cameras: how to load film, how to read a light meter and how to frame a shot and shoot. Then he and Silva went on an actual run into the townships.

“João would pick me up, we smoked a lot of very strong cigarettes, he showed me exactly where everything happened, then we played some pool, had some beer and this was actually how he and Ken and Greg and Kevin would do it,” said Van Jaarsveld. “For sure, he is not your normal type of guy. He’s got an interesting stance when he shoots, almost as if he is hiding behind nothing. You won’t really see him in a crowd because he’s got that “crouching tiger, hidden João” thing happening. He knows where to place himself for a shot. It’s got to be tight to be right, basically. That’s the way they shot it, getting in really close. I was grouping people and he said, ‘No, no that’s not right. You can’t tell people where to stand for the picture or you might as well go to a wedding. You have to shoot it without being there.’ He was there, but not really. But he was so close, blood on the lens, blood on yourself, your friends being shot. And he still does it.”

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Shooting where it happened

“For the people living in those communities, those memories are recent and fresh, and those wounds are open.” – Steven Silver

When FW de Klerk, then president of South Africa, announced the ban on the African National Congress would be lifted on 2 February 1990, supporters of the ANC – both black and white – came out onto the streets of Johannesburg to celebrate. The city lay alongside Soweto (an acronym for South Western Townships) where the black population lived, barred from holding any type of job other than migrant labourers.

“One of the things we wanted to achieve in the film was a certain sense that for each of these photographers, there was an alternative life available to them,” said Silver. “White Johannesburg is a magnificent city. It’s the most botanically cultivated city in the world. They could have just lived inside white South Africa with its tree-lined suburban streets and glorious malls and never stepped a foot inside a township, and remained untouched by the violence which was taking place sometimes no more than five kilometres away.

“The most surprising thing for me in making this film – and I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised – is how this history remains very fresh inside these communities of Soweto and Thokoza. I thought enough time had passed that those wounds, if not healed, would have been sufficiently in the past that our making a film about those events would be considered historical storytelling – and it isn’t. For the people living in those communities, those memories are recent and fresh, and those wounds are open.”

For Silver and his producers, it was important that the film be shot in the exact locations where the events happened. What surprised them was that when they were shooting the burning man scene where Marinovich takes his Pulitzer-prize winner series of photos, people came out onto the street with magazines with those photos. They had kept them for a decade and a half.

“This was a very brutal war,” said Silver. “The violence was vicious, relentless and it quickly became endemic. There was no way these photographers could do what they did and remain untouched by it. The thing about violence in South Africa is that it implicated all of us in different ways. It was impossible to escape being affected by it, all the more so for people who chose to walk into the middle of it.”

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About the actors

Ryan Phillippe (Greg Marinovich) – As an actor, producer, and writer, Ryan Phillippe has quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s most versatile young talents. He has starred in many diverse roles beginning with his first film, Disney’s White Squall, working with acclaimed director Ridley Scott. In his early films, Phillippe was able to work with exceptional actors and directors in movies such as Little Boy Blue with Natassja Kinski, Greg Araki’s Nowhere (the third film in Araki’s controversial trilogies), Homegrown with Billy Bob Thornton and Playing by Heart with the ensemble cast of Sean Connery, Angelina Jolie and Gena Rowlands. Starring roles soon followed in the Columbia box office smash I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions co-starring Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Miramax’s 54 with Mike Meyers.

Phillippe co-starred in Robert Altman’s Oscar-nominated film Gosford Park as well as Igby Goes Down with Susan Sarandon and Kieren Culkin, Anti-Trust for MGM co-starring Tim Robbins, Paramount Classic’s Company Man with Sigourney Weaver, Artisan’s Way of the Gun and Miramax’s The I Inside.

Phillippe was most recently seen in Paramount’s war-drama Stop Loss, alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum. He recently completed filming Franklyn, opposite Eva Green, a neo-noir film with a split narrative set simultaneously in contemporary London and in a future metropolis ruled by religious fervour. It is the story of four lost souls divided by two parallel worlds.

Phillippe most recent successes include Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers for Dreamworks and Warner Bros and Universal’s Breach starring opposite Chris Cooper. The film, based on real life events, follows an aspiring FBI agent who is handpicked to work for a renowned operative in the classified intelligence division, where the trainee discovers that his mentor might be the nation’s most dangerous security risk.

Phillippe can also be seen in Lions Gate’s Academy-Award winning film Crash for director Paul Haggis about a group of strangers who are brought together by a car accident. The actor will next be seen in the two independent features: Five Fingers co-starring Laurence Fishburne and Chaos, about two cops in pursuit of an accomplished bank robber.

Phillippe has also formed the production company Lucid Films with his partner, David Siegal, which is housed by Intermedia Films. Lucid Films produces projects for all media. The company’s first production is White Boy Shuffle.

Phillippe makes his home in Los Angeles with his two children.

Taylor Kitsch (Kevin Carter) – Taylor Kitsch’s career trajectory began in 2002 when he moved to New York to study with renowned acting coach Sheila Grey. He landed his first major feature film the following year and has worked consistently in film and TV ever since.

Currently filming as Disney’s newest action star, Kitsch takes on the role of Civil War vet John Carter in the 2012 live-action film John Carter of Mars. Alongside X Men: Wolverine co-star Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe, with Academy Award-winning director for WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Carter is transplanted to Mars to discover a diverse planet.

Perhaps best known for his part in NBC’s critically acclaimed TV television series Friday Night Lights, Kitsch brings poignancy and vulnerability to the role of Tim Riggins, a Texas high school fullback struggling to find his identity and wresting his demons by way of the bottle.

During the show’s summer hiatus, Taylor filmed the feature Gospel Hill alongside Julia Stiles, Danny Glover, Angela Bassett and Samuel L Jackson. Directed by Giancarlo Esposito, the film tells the story of a bigoted former sheriff of a southern town and a one-time civil rights worker whose intersecting lives are still haunted by events that took place decades before.

Kitsch’s other feature film credits include Renny Harlin’s horror flick The Covenant, Richard Ellis’ cult classic Snakes on a Plane, Betty Thomas’ comedy John Tucker Must Die and South African director Gavin Hood’s 2009 sci-fi action adventure X Men Origins: Wolverine, starring as Gambit alongside Hugh Jackman and John Carter.

Malin Akerman (Robin Comley) – Malin Akerman is quickly becoming one of the busiest young actresses in Hollywood today. With both impeccable comedic timing and the ability to take on dramatic roles, Malin has starred in a wide variety of films. She was recently seen in two titles at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival: audience-favourite HappyThankYouMorePlease directed by Josh Radnor and The Romantics, co-starring Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Elijah Wood and Adam Brody. She also starred in the Peter Billingsley-directed comedy Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman and Jon Favreau.

In March 2009, she co-starred as Laurie/Silk Spectre in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, which opened at number one with more than $50-million. Last year, she starred in the hit romantic comedy 27 Dresses, with Katherine Heigl, James Marsden and Edward Burns, under the direction of Anne Fletcher. Akerman recently reunited with Fletcher to co-star with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in the romantic comedy The Proposal, which also opened at number one and has grossed more than $100 million to date.

In 2007, Akerman could be seen alongside Ben Stiller in the romantic comedy The Heartbreak Kid, directed by the Farrelly brothers. Her other film credits include the independent releases Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and The Brothers Solomon.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Akerman moved to Toronto with her family at the age of two and spent her youth in both Canada and Sweden. At age five she began modelling and acting in TV commercials. When she was 17, she won the Ford Supermodel of Canada search and began to spend her summers modelling in Europe. While enjoying success as a model, Akerman ultimately decided to attend college and to focus on her acting.

Soon after, she moved to Los Angeles and began landing roles in independent films, as well as guest roles on TV series. Her breakthrough came in 2005 on the HBO series The Comeback starring Lisa Kudrow. Akerman gained attention of both critics and audiences for her work in the series regular role of Juno Millken on the show. In addition, she had a memorable recurring role on the third season of the hit HBO series Entourage.

Frank Rautenbach (Ken Oosterbroek) – Frank Rautenbach was born in East London, South Africa, and began his acting career with the television series Sewende Laan playing the character Tiaan Terblanche. In 2006 he moved into film with the lead role in the award-winning South African feature Faith Like Potatoes, directed by Regardt van den Bergh, followed by his portrayal of the disgraced cricket captain, Hansie Cronje, in Hansie, by the same director, and he is currently filming Taste of Rain, written and directed by Richard Pakleppaand shot on location in Namibia.

Neels van Jaarsveld (João Silva) – Neels van Jaarsveld studied at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He is a multi-award winning actor and has been seen in various TV productions including Binnelanders, Known Gods, Hard Copy, Egoli and Yizo Yizo 3. He has also over 40 stage productions under his belt and movies including Goodbye Bafana.

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About the filmmakers

Steven Silver (writer, director, and executive producer) – Beginning his career in the South African film industry, Steven Silver went on to write and co-produce Gerrie & Louise, an international Emmy-award-winning feature-length documentary. Steven went on to direct numerous documentaries. His greatest success came from The Last Just Man, a feature-length documentary which won over 18 international awards. Steven also directed The Diameter of a Bomb, a documentary which was released theatrically by Think Film and The Dark Years an animated documentary which won the Animation competition at the Ottawa Animation Film Festival.

Steven has also produced scripted and non-scripted television series, television films and was the executive producer on Roger Spottiswood’s Shake Hands with the Devil.

Lance Samuels (producer) – After first joining the film industry in 1991, Lance Samuels quickly advanced through the ranks to become South Africa’s most experienced and sought-after assistant director, working on major productions shot in South Africa. In 2000, Lance joined New Africa Media Films (NAM Films) to head up development and facilitation. During this time, NAM Films produced the horror film Slash which was sold to Universal Pictures and First Look Media. In 2004, Lance founded Out of Africa Entertainment in order to better service both local and international productions. Out of Africa Entertainment is now the premier production company in South Africa with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The company currently produces over 50 hours of international TV series and three to four features every year. Samuels featured as the leader of the South African film industry in the top 50 entrepreneurs in Southern Africa. Other than The Bang-Bang Club, he has recently produced Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa 2010, the country’s highest grossing film of all time. Out of Africa’s other credits include multiple award-winning drama series Generation Kill, The Devils Whore, The Prisoner and the long running series Wild at Heart. Samuels is proud to head up a dynamic team that reflects a new generation of internationally recognised South African filmmakers.

Daniel Iron (producer) – After graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1987, Daniel Iron was legal counsel at Telefilm Canada for five years. He joined and eventually became a partner at Rhombus Media where he produced the acclaimed feature film Long Day's Journey Into Night, directed by David Wellington, as well as co-producing the Oscar-winning The Red Violin from Francois Girard, and producing the award-winning Last Night, directed by Don McKellar as well as McKellar’s Childstar. Iron also executive produced Guy Maddin’s Saddest Music in the World, Jennifer Baichwal’s acclaimed documentary Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles and Peter Wellington’s Luck. At Rhombus, Iron was also producer on numerous TV productions, including The Four Seasons and Don Giovanni Unmasked, two performing arts films, the Gemini-nominated series Foreign Objects, written and directed by Ken Finkleman, Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen, a performance/documentary directed by Larry Weinstein, Elizabeth Rex, a TV film based on Timothy Findley’s play, the acclaimed Slings and Arrows, a six-part comedic television series, and Beethoven’s Hair, a documentary directed by Larry Weinstein.

In 2004 Iron left Rhombus to create his own production company, Foundry Films Inc. Foundry has produced Northern Town, a CBC series set and shot in the Yukon, It's Me Gerald, a six half-hour series for Showcase and in 2005 Last Exit, a TV movie with CTV directed by John Fawcett. In 2006 he produced Manufactured Landscapes, the theatrical documentary on acclaimed photographer,Edward Burtynsky, directed by Jennifer Baichwal which won best Canadian film at Toronto International Film Festival, the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Canadian Film and Best Documentary of 2006 as well a Genie for Best Documentary. The team has also now completed a third documentary, entitled Act of God, which is in current theatrical release. Iron also produced Sarah Polley’s debut feature Away From Her starring Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis, which was released in the US by Lionsgate in May, 2007 and garnered six Gemini awards and two Academy Award Nominations. Iron acted as executive producer of Fido, a large budget feature by Anagram Pictures in Vancouver. Iron’s most recently completed production is Cairo Time, written and directed by Ruba Nadda and starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig. Iron was the executive producer on Michael Dowse’s TV miniseries The Foundation and he also has just wrapped production on Act of Dishonour, shot on location in Tajikistan.

Adam Friedlander (producer) started working in the film industry in 1994 and quickly made a name for himself as one of South Africa's finest assistant directors, line producers and recently producer. With well over 30 features and television films under his belt, Adam joined OOA in 2004 as a line producer and now heads up production at Out Of Africa. Adam’s credits include producing The Bang-Bang Club and Mrs ‘M’ as well as many long-running drama series including The Devil’s Whore, Generation Kill and Life is Wild. He was first assistant director on the recent productions of Kidnap & Ransom, Strike Back and Runaway.

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Cast

  • Greg: Ryan Phillippe
  • Robin: Malin Akerman
  • Kevin: Taylor Kitsch
  • João: Neels van Jaarsveld
  • Ken: Francois Rautenbach
  • Samantha: Nina Milner
  • Allie: Jessica Haines
  • Vivian: Lika van den Bergh
  • Patrick: Kgosi Mongake
  • Ronald: Russel Savadier
  • Pegleg: Patrick Shai
  • Alf Khumalo: Alf Khumalo
  • Amir: Craig Palm
  • Colin: Nick Boraine
  • Nachtwey: Martin Le Maitre
  • KK: Kuutso Shilakwe
  • Petrus Maseko: Vusi Kunene
  • Commanding Officer: Darren Kelfkens
  • Jacques Hugo: Greg Melvill-Smith
  • Journalist: David Butler
  • Local Man: Geoffery Sekele
  • Local Woman: Featured Extra
  • Man In White Shirt: Israel Makoe
  • Margy: Fiona Ramsay
  • Marnie: Ashley Mulheron
  • Policeman (Star Office): Jacques Gombault
  • Sarel: Ashley Saunders
  • Sheila: Eloise Horjus
  • Smaller Boy: Katlego Bingwa
  • Sonny: Nats Ramabulana
  • Young Comrade: Siyamthanda Ndlanga
  • Zulu Fighter: Treasure Tshabalala
  • Zulu Fighter: Jabulani Mthembu
  • Zulu Fighter: Siphiwe Zulu

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Crew

  • Writer / Director: Steven Silver
  • Producer: Daniel Iron
  • Producer: Lance Samuels
  • Producer / Sa / Line Producer: Adam Friedlander
  • Executive Producer: Neil Tabatznik
  • Executive Producer: Steven Silver
  • Executive Producer: Patrice Theroux
  • Executive Producer: Laszlo Barna
  • Executive Producer: Chris Ouwinga
  • Executive Producer: Darryn Welch
  • Executive Producer: Kweku Mandela Amuah
  • Executive Producer: Dr Kwame Amuah
  • Executive Producer: Lal Bharwaney
  • Executive Producer: Shabir Carrim
  • Executive Producer: Jannie Van Wyk
  • Executive Producer: Ahmed Omar Carrim
  • Co-Producer: Claire Welland
  • Co-Producer: Carla Mowbray
  • Steven’s PA: Iman Muldoon
  • Production Manager: Darren Cameron
  • Production Coordinator: Matt Ward
  • Canadian: Kimberley Bradley
  • Production Coordinator:
  • Assistant Coordinator: Sibusisiwe Muchovo
  • Production Trainee: Sharon Ehbel
  • Production Trainee: Talia Camila Cowan
  • Production Assistant: Shammy Tlaka
  • Production Assistant: Piet Leboyi
  • Production Accountant Canada: Nora Simmons
  • Production Accountant South Africa: Laura Willcox
  • Accounts Assistant South Africa: Tumi Poen
  • Armourer: Pete Smith
  • Production Designer: Emelia Weavind
  • Art Director: Shane Bunce
  • Storyboard Artist Canada: Rob Ballantyne
  • Storyboard Artist Sa: Alistair Findlay
  • Set Decorator: Guy Potgieter
  • Graphic Designer: Emlyn Robert Nield
  • Standby Set Dresser: Fabio Mbazwana
  • 1st Assistant Director: Gerry Gavigan
  • 2nd Assistant Director: Marc Biart
  • 2nd 2nd Assistant Director: David Tumahole
  • 3rd Assistant Director: Joseph Mtititi Malele
  • 2nd 3rd Assistant Director: Harry Khumalo
  • Director Of Photography: Miroslaw Baszak
  • Camera Operator: Perry Hoffman
  • Focus Puller: James Frater
  • Focus Puller: Derek Uekermann
  • Loader: Dirk Steyn
  • Loader: Andrew
  • Dark Room Loader: Amy Yeats
  • Camera Truck Driver: Hendrik Sebulela
  • Casting Director – Can: Deidre Bowen
  • Casting Director – SA: Moonyeenn Lee
  • Assistant Casting Director: Belinda Kruger
  • Dialogue Coach – SA: Fiona Ramsay
  • Extras Casting & Coordination: Eunice Qwabe
  • Zest Caterers: Peter, Mark, Anton
  • Continuity: Maureen Conway
  • Costume Designer: Ruy Filipe
  • Assistant Costume Designer: Zureta Schulz
  • Wardrobe Supervisor: Jacques Van Rooyen
  • Lead Wardrobe Standby: Zanele Mhlanga
  • Extras Wardrobe Standby: Bot’s Chick
  • Extra’S Wardrobe Assistant Coordinator: Mayothi Mhlanga
  • Wardrobe Department Assistant: Thembi Faith Mdlala
  • Seamstress: Agrineth Mokwena
  • Wardrobe Driver: Osias Mndaweni
  • Key Grip: Zann Wienand
  • Best Boy Grip: Rob Brooker
  • Grip 2: Chad De Klerk
  • Grip Assistant: Tyler Geldenhuys
  • Grips Truck Driver: Bongani Khumalo
  • Gaffer: Nick Rankin
  • Best Boy: ANDREW Mccullam
  • Spark: Wellington Mchunu
  • Legal Advisor: Carla Mowbray
  • E & O Lawyer: Diana Cafazzo
  • Make-Up & Hair Designer: Annie Bartels
  • Make Up: Candy-Ann Gibbons
  • Hair & Make Up Artist: Natasha Fagri
  • Cutting Rooms: Tattersall Sound & Picture
  • Post-Production Supervisor: Julie Lawrence
  • Editor: Ron Sanders
  • Assistant Editor: Luis Freitas
  • Ron Sanders Agent: Ann Murtha
  • Music Supervisor: Stacy Horricks
  • Archive/ Footage: Sharon Cort
  • Props Master: Nkhulu Ntshundisane
  • Standby Props: Thabiso David Mohapi
  • Props Assistant/Driver: David Mxolisi Mbenzo
  • Safety Officer: Nic Grigg
  • Medic: Thomas Uys
  • Security: Kenneth “Shoes” Mola
  • Security: Stranger Oliphant
  • Security: Gcinaphi Lasy Dlamini
  • Set Decorator: Guy Potgieter
  • Swing Gang: Mzwandile Collen Makhubela
  • Swing Gang: Khanya Sibiya
  • Swing Gang: Edward Lucky Lebekwe
  • Swing Gang: Mbongiseni Anthony Gardner
  • Leadman: Justice Nhlapo
  • Leadman: Gary Middlewick
  • Set Dresser: Henrietta Moutinho
  • Standby Set Dresser: Fabio Mbazwana
  • Art Truck Driver: Charlie Ramututu
  • Swing Gang Boss: Gregory Hange Sedibe
  • Sound Recordist: Nico Louw
  • Boom Swinger: Aurther Koundouris
  • Sound Department Trainee: Themba Mashinini
  • Stunts & Special Fx: Antony Stone
  • Coordinator: Big Bang Stunts & Effects
  • Stunt Coordinator: Mick Milligan
  • SFX Foreman: Gavin Pearson
  • SFX Technician: Don Waters
  • SFX Technician: Ricado Cupido
  • SFX Trainee: Antonio Morelli
  • SFX Trainee: Cassandra Van Der Zanden
  • Location Manager: Elliott Borkum
  • Unit Manager: Quenton Jonosky
  • Unit Assistant: Alton Mthunzi
  • Unit Assistant: Lucky Moeti
  • Transport Manager: Matt Ward
  • Ryans Cast PA: Luke Hudson Bennett
  • Transport Chaperone: Thekiso Moletsane
  • Chaperone: Hodges Sibeko
  • Chaperone: Sandile Ngcobo
  • Chaperone: Vusi Mabaso
  • Cast Chaperone: Richard S Ushe
  • Driver: Gene Letsholo
  • Driver: Godfrey Seiso Mokakale
  • Driver: Abie Shabalala
  • Driver: Sydney Joseph Masiteng
  • Driver: Xolisa Paul Gobo
  • Driver: Clement Magwaza
  • Driver: Jeremiah Mabasa
  • Driver: Patrick Makhuvele
  • Driver: Kwezi Siyabulela Majeke
  • Driver: Mondli Shozi
  • Foundry Films President: Danny Iron
  • Associate Producer: Shana Collier
  • Out of Africa: Lance Samuels
  • Out of Africa: Adam Friedlander
  • Out of Africa: Rory Downing
  • Out of Africa: Cheryl Eatock
  • Accountant: Tebogo Maila
  • Accounts Assistant: Dineo Kekana
  • Assistant To Producers: Thabo Motloung
  • Office Pa: Michael Chokoe
  • Office Hospitality: Catherine Raphela
  • Office Cleaner: Lizzy Nkosi
  • Grounds Keeper: George Mlambo
  • Instinctive Film Gmbh CEO/Producer: Darryn Welch
  • Production Coordinator: Loreen Siemens
  • Head Of Development: Eron Sheean
  • Business Affairs Lead Analyst Rogers: William Barron
  • Executive Director Rogers Telefund – HGF: Robin Mirsky
  • President – OMDC: John Galway
  • Program Consultant Film & TV E1 Films: Martin Harbury
  • Co-President: Bryan Gliserman
  • Richard Rapkowski
  • EPK – Eron Sheean: Instinctive Films

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Watch

Watch the official trailer for The Bang-Bang Club:


Watch the trailer for War Photographer:


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