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The Bang Bang Club

In the early to mid '90s, when the South African system of apartheid was in its death throes, four photographers - Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek and João Silva - bonded by their friendship and a sense of purpose, worked together to chronicle the violence and upheaval leading up to the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela as president. Their work is risky and dangerous, potentially fatally so, as they thrust themselves into the middle of chaotic clashes between forces backed by the government (including Inkatha Zulu warriors) and those in support of Mandela's African National Congress.
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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

40

Village Voice by

Silver treads around and too heavily on the moral ambiguities involved in documenting atrocities, moving between frantic, poorly explained scenes of African conflict and the equally familiar, benumbing aesthetic of boys making a macho game of war.
40

Time Out by David Fear

A single arresting shot of a photographer chasing a man on fire says more about journalistic ethics and the queasy power of the image than all of the speechifying and star-posing combined; if only the rest of this muddled movie had as much insightful Sontagian bang.
70

Los Angeles Times by Gary Goldstein

Writer-director Steven Silver (with an able assist from cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak) captures this brutal time - which led to the country's first free, multiracial elections in 1994 and the end of apartheid - in vivid, often bold, but never overpowering strokes.
50

The New York Times by Jeannette Catsoulis

Why, then, do we care not one bit when Pulitzers are won and bullets unsuccessfully dodged? The answer lies partly in Mr. Silver's refusal to elucidate the racial politics or engage with the world outside the film's incoherently chaotic bubble.
50

Chicago Tribune by Michael Phillips

Writer-director Silver, who trained in documentaries, appears flummoxed by the challenges of getting the audience inside the heads of these young men.
50

Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

This question, which will instinctively occur to many viewers, is never quite dealt with in the film. The photographers sometimes drive into the middle of violent situations, hold up a camera, and say "press!" - as if that will solve everything.
50

The A.V. Club by Scott Tobias

Silver means to get across the adrenaline rush of lives lived in dangerous extremes, but winds up trivializing their accomplishments and making them seem like men of hearty appetites, but little intellectual depth.

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