Tribeca Film Fest 2011 Review - "The Bang Bang Club"

by Tambay A. Obenson
April 21, 2011 7:54 AM
1 Comment
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It's screening tonight at the ongoing Tribeca Film Festival, and will be in theaters this weekend.

Here's a review of the film written by Shadow And Act contributor Alece Oxendine.

The Bang Bang Club, a film by Steven Silver starring Ryan Phillipe, Taylor Kitsch, Malin Akerman, Neels Van Jaarsveld and Frank Rautenbach, is being released this weekend through TriBeCa’s new distribution arm, TriBeCa Films. I must say I was excited about this film when I heard about it in the Marche in Cannes last year. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and has not made a big splash yet. I saw it a few weeks back and here are my thoughts.

The Bang Bang Club centers on the true story of four photographers in South Africa during the Apartheid turmoil. It’s a wonderfully shot film with some really great parts but ultimately, the film seems confused about what it wants to be; a political drama or an action film.

I believe this film tries too hard to be a drama and suffers from a weak script. Some of the scenes feel like a series of photographs rather than a film. This is not surprising since Silver is a documentary filmmaker and this is his first feature.

I wish there were more scenes with black South Africans and hearing their point of view about the Bang Bang Club. I know the film is about the photographers and in some scenes they talk about their own views of racism, Apartheid and South Africa’s future.

Kevin Carter is the member of the Bang Bang Club who takes the famous image of the child hunched over while a vulture stalks her. This photograph has sparked debate about a photographer or a filmmaker's involvement and responsibility in the subjects they are photographing or shooting. The film alludes to the motivation for these photographers being acclaim, and the ability to get the perfect shot, not trying to save the people. But in a way they do get involved when their lives are really in danger.

Some parts were gripping and suspenseful-especially the ones when they were in the trenches taking photographs of conflict. I personally disliked the heavy focus on their relationships with the women in their lives. These scenes fell flat and did not add anything substantial to the film.

I found it easier to think about this film in parts rather than a whole. In one particular part, there were no subtitles when the black South Africans speak with each other. That bothers me because we, the audience, feel like an outsider; we feel the frustration of the photographer.

Even though The Bang Bang Club suffers from multiple-personality disorder, I suggest watching it because it gives an interesting point of view of the ones who photograph these iconic images of Africans at war. The film recreates some of these amazing photographs.

The Bang Bang Club screens tonight at 6pm as part of the TriBeCa film festival, and it is being released this weekend at theaters in LA, New York, Chicago and next weekend in Chicago, DC and Seattle and at your local cable box via VOD.

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1 Comment

  • Tamara | April 22, 2011 3:00 AMReply

    Interesting. Thanks for the synopsis. And the image of Ryan looking all pouty-in-the-mouth as usual. ;) lol

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