Monday, April 18, 2011

Talking Tribeca: The Bang Bang Club

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from the Tribeca Film Festival. In no particular order, I present a look at one film per day. The Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 20th through May 1st.

The Bang Bang Club
Directed by Steven Silver
Festival Screenings

When it comes to topics, it doesn’t get much more interesting than South Africa near the end of apartheid. Of course, it’s a fairly disturbing subject matter, and while it ultimately involves a positive triumph over segregation, the path to it was harrowing and deadly for many. This special screening of the Tribeca Film Festival is the story of the photography crew known as the Bang Bang Club, whose daily routine involved going out to the more lawless villages in South Africa to document the violence happening every day in the region. There’s something rather ironic about staging a film about capturing unpredictable moments of real life, and that disconnect is somewhat evident in the film. This is director Steven Silver’s first narrative film, following the production of several documentaries. This is most certainly a story that deserves to be told, but it might have been better suited to a nonfiction compilation. The dialogue often falls flat and the performances, especially those of Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman, are less than three-dimensional. Still, learning about the existence of this club of sorts and seeing how widespread their photography became is monumentally intriguing, and the film is fully engaging for the length of its runtime. Even if it’s not a film worth remembering, it’s hard to forget its brutal content and definitely moving to see how it affects its documentarians.

See it or skip it? Hardly essential viewing, but it’s not bad.

No comments: