Let the Fire Burn
New People CinemaSun, May 5, 2013 9:00 PM Not Available
Sundance Kabuki CinemasWed, May 8, 2013 6:15 PM Not Available
Film Info
Premiere Status:USA
Year of Prod:2013
Running Time:94
Original Language:English
Awards:GGA Documentary Feature Contender
dir:Jason Osder
prod:Jason Osder
editor:Nels Bangerter
source:Director of Sales
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“Blame is a broad brush.” These are the words of former Philadelphia Fire Commissioner William Richmond, assessing one of the darkest moments in the history of American law enforcement: the row-house blaze at MOVE headquarters that killed 11 people on May 13, 1985. In Let The Fire Burn, filmmaker Jason Osder deftly weaves local news broadcasts, taped depositions and excerpts from the post-conflagration public hearing—a remarkable airing of municipal dirty laundry—into an engrossing account of the tragedy and its aftermath. Equal parts history and exposé, this probing documentary addresses culpability but also moves beyond it, posing a deeper question about the apparent breakdown of civil authority when faced with a threat—real or perceived—to the social order. Here that threat is embodied by MOVE, Philadelphia's Africanist 'back-to-nature' movement. Founded in 1972, MOVE soon drew the ire of neighboring families—and the Philadelphia police—as its agrarian communal ethos gave way to increasingly strident provocations. Racial tensions between the largely African American group and white law enforcement officers soon erupted into a spate of arrests, incidents of police brutality and growing violence. Through its careful arrangement of archival footage, this film vividly recounts how a volatile brew of revolutionary fervor, racial tension and the breakdown of civil authority exploded into violence and brought the conflict to a fiery end.
-Paul Meyers

Co-presenter: USF Human Rights Film Festival 

Additional Information

Jason Osder

Washington, D.C.-based director Jason Osder is an assistant professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University and the co-founder of Amigo Media, a postproduction house and consultancy. Raised in Philadelphia, his distant childhood memory of the MOVE fire eventually evolved into Let the Fire Burn, his feature documentary debut. He is the recipient of a 2011 Sundance Documentary Film Grant.