‘People have no clue what it takes to bring photo images to the world'

2011-07-23 00:00

STEVEN Silver, director of the film The Bang Bang Club, was a typical radical student back at the time he was studying at Wits. And it is precisely this background that contributed to his decision to make the movie.

“By telling the story of these four young men I found a way of revisiting that time,” Silver said this week. “I was a student activist …”

But that was not the only motivation for the film. The Bang Bang Club is also a story about people who have documented conflict.

“I love documentary movies. A lot of what I do is documentary films. And I have always believed that people who choose to do that kind of work pay a price for it.

“I also realised here was a story that could possibly be of universal interest. The photos taken by the photographers appeared on the front pages of newspaper across the world. Yet most people have no clue what it entailed to bring those images to the world. Or what kind of person it is that does that work.”

Silver doesn’t allow himself to become too unsettled by criticism against the movie, especially not criticism from Monica Hilton-Barber, widow of photographer Ken Oosterbroek.

“Monica has had an unbelievably tragic life,” said Silver. “I had one conversation with her and realised this thing was too raw for her. After that I decided that her and Ken’s relationship was not central to the film and that I could rely on the information in the book for writing the screenplay.”

The most important thing for Silver was that the film should be authentic. And that it why it was important that it should also be gripping for the viewer.

“It would have been merely melodramatic if that sense of genuineness wasn’t there. I wanted it to feel real. I wanted to make something that looks and feels like it felt and looked and that makes people a little uncomfortable.”

Asked whether he has any expectations about the film, which opens in South Africa next Friday, Silver says: “I expect there to be a discussion about the accents …”

Three of the leading actors are not South Africans and had to be coached to get the accent right.

Why not an all-South African cast?

“Financing is a hard reality. Until there is money available to make these kinds of movies with funding just from South Africa, we cannot use South African actors only. We had to rely on international funding and for that we needed international actors.”

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