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Combat Photographers' True Story Makes Big Impact In Tribeca

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The deaths of photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington in Libya this week lends new poignancy to a film debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday. NY1's Mara Montalbano filed the following report.

"The Bang Bang Club," which had its U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, tells the true story of four photographers who covered the first free elections in post-apartheid South Africa in the early 1990s.

Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch use the real-life subjects they portray in the film to shape their performances in this tragic yet inspiring story.

"The thing that [photographer Greg Marinovich] was most concerned with was the portrayal of his dead friends and making sure that that was consistent and not a stereotype, not a cinematic cliche, and I think we pulled that off," says Phillippe, who portrays Marinovich.

"We had sort of an emotional journey together, where [pictures editor Robin Comley] just shared everything that was necessary," says Malin Akerman, who portrays Comley. "Difficult topics of her friends dying, and what that felt like emotionally, and she was so giving and open and wonderful to work with."

"It's a very touchy subject with [photographer Kevin Carter's] family. I did get to meet his daughter and basically to reach out to her I put her initials on my chest," says Kitsch, who portrays Carter. "It means everything to me really to do that justice."

The film is even more timely in the wake of the deaths this week of two acclaimed photojournalists in Libya.

Greg Marinovich, the real life "Bang Bang Club" member portrayed by Phillippe in the film, says it is an all-too-tragic aspect of life as a combat photographer.

"Photojournalists who cover conflict and social unrest are aware of the dangers that they possibly face, and nothing can really prepare you for what does happen in a situation as chaotic as Libya," says Marinovich.

"I just think we need to be loud about that journalists are a protected community, they're a privileged community, and they're not parties to conflicts. So we just need to keep being loud about that," says director Steven Silver.

"The Bang Bang Club" opens in New York on Friday, and can currently be seen On Demand on Time Warner Cable.

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