This morning’s press reception for The Bang Bang Club in Cannes was rather affected by the conspicuous absence of the film’s main star, Ryan Phillippe, who pulled out at the last minute due to illness, making it a slightly quieter affair than many had expected. But what the press who didn’t attend missed out on were co-stars Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch, who introduced the film with director Steven Silver and sat down with Rotten Tomatoes to tell us more.
The project, which has just wrapped principal photography, is the tale of a group of photojournalists in post-Apartheid South Africa who risked their lives to take some of the most iconic warzone imagery in severely troubled times. “I was a young student during the early 90s which is when the film is set,” director Steven Silver told RT. “I joined the anti-Apartheid struggle and looked through many of the events described in the book and the film. I remember seeing this group of young photographers who were roughly my age. I’d see them taking photographs in the middle of this chaos. When I read a Time Magazine article about them I thought that it would make a compelling film. I’ve been pursuing it ever since.”
The film is based on a book of the same name, released after the Time article, which was written by two members of the titular club. For Wolverine star Taylor Kitsch, who plays Kevin Carter, who killed himself shortly after the death of another member of the group, taking on the character of a photographer was a challenging process. “I’ve always been intimidated by the technicalities of taking photos, especially with a film camera — not just a point and shoot. But getting a role like this there’s no better moment to take it in. I look at photography in a different light, now.”
The responsibility of bringing Carter to screen was an important one and one that required Kitsch to change himself both mentally and physically. “Taylor lost 30 pounds in this role,” Akerman told us, “He was eating fruits and veggies and that’s it.”
Explains Kitsch, “I was incredibly moody. I remember being in my room once and the internet connection was slow. I remember I called down and asked them if it’d improve, and they said the internet in South Africa is just pretty slow. I was so emotionally wrecked that I cried!”
For Akerman, the experience of shooting on location was a humbling one. “South Africa was very hard to shake off — I didn’t want to leave,” she told RT. “It had such an impact on your soul. We did a film about the end of Apartheid and we’d go to homes of people in shacks and meet children living in poverty and they’re not sad. They appreciate that there’s peace. It warms your heart and you know you have nothing to complain about in life.”
“These war photographers would break up in front of you telling their story,” added Kitsch. “That raised your game, your focus and what you put into it. I think for me this is why I do it. It’s why you put in the work. You’re telling the story of someone who lived and you have to do it right.”
The Bang Bang Club is currently in post-production and is due for release next year.