Welcome to the first installment of ‘Indie Dive’, a series that delves into the recesses of the independent film world and pulls out a gem. Each Indie Dive column spotlights a lesser known indie film, hopefully convincing you to add it to your film queue. Part one of the Indie Dive series brings you The Bang Bang Club.
The Bang Bang Club tells the true story of Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich, Ken Oosterbroek and João Silva, a group of conflict photojournalists in the final days of South African apartheid. Perhaps the name Kevin Carter does not ring a bell, but you might recall the snapshot of Sudan’s 1993 famine represented in “Struggling Girl,” his Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of a vulture and an emaciated girl.
Putting themselves in great danger, the members of the Bang Bang Club went to great lengths to capture the bloody conflict and expose the world to it. But this comes at great cost. They struggle to cope with the trauma of constantly subjecting themselves to gory sights and harmful environments. After all, the name “The Bang Bang Club” was derived from the sound of gunshots and the constant violence these photographers endured.
Despite its flaws, this film offers the audience a glimpse of a story unknown to much of the world. Most people know about the apartheid, but may not be aware of the rocky transition from the formal oppression of the apartheid regime to the free elections that took place amidst lingering division and violence.
More importantly, this film raises important questions about journalism, race, and politics. What responsibilities do journalists have to the people about whom they report? Is it enough to just shine a light on the issue, or should journalists intervene to remedy active situations when they can? What right have photojournalists to win Pulitzer prizes when it comes at the expense of another life? Were white journalists profiting from the pain of black people? Who actually gets helped by journalism?