LET THE FIRE BURN

2013 – USA – English – 95 minutes

On May 13, 1985, a decade-long conflict between the Philadelphia police and MOVE, a radical African American back-to-nature group, comes to a head. After an extensive gunfight, the Police commissioner authorized a bomb to be dropped on the MOVE compound, a row house in lower-middle class West Philadelphia, which ignited a fire that killed all the residents except one little boy and destroyed an entire community. First time filmmaker Jason Osder’s sobering and powerful archival documentary pulls you into this moment where suspicion and intractability build into a deadly conclusion. 

Director: Jason Osder

Film Festivals: Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, SFIFF, AFI DOCS

US Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

Praise:  

So I’ll get right to it — the only truly great film I’ve seen at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is Jason Osder’s searing Let the Fire Burn... It goes without saying that this masterpiece about an astounding and forgotten moment in recent American history should be seen far and wide; every American is an ambitious goal, so as many as possible will do. But let’s just start with you, anonymous reader, and we’ll go from there. - Brandon Harris, FILMMAKER MAGAZINE

Telling its riveting, despairing tale entirely through archival footage, the terrific documentary Let The Fire Burn examines the events that led to a tragic 1985 confrontation in Philadelphia between police and a local extremist organisation. But this is no musty or preachy history lesson: Director Jason Osder’s deeply thoughtful full-length debut has the force and intrigue of a courtroom thriller, enlivening this nearly 30-year-old incident so that it ripples with urgency and moral complexity.

By calmly and unsettlingly laying out a snapshot of a city’s darkest moments, Let The Fire Burn transcends its era to speak to the troubling issues of class, race and power that still haunt America 28 years later. - Tim Grierson, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL

History repeats itself, and returns to life, in Osder’s expert work of collage... A superior example of the found-footage documentary... combining the death-trip of a Senna with the radical history of Black Power Mixtape.  - Nic Rapold, FILM COMMENT 

"Critic's pick...Ranking with recent found-footage efforts like 'The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu'and 'Senna,' yet joining a still longer lineage, 'Let the Fire Burn' relentlessly sustains its tragic momentum."  Nicholas Rapold, THE NEW YORK TIMES

AWARDS: 

WINNER- Best Documentary Editing, Special Jury Prize for Best New Filmmaker-Tribeca Film Festival

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature-Gotham Awards

Nominated Three IDA Awards: Best Documentary Feature, Humanitas Award, and ABC News Videsource Award

Winner-Best Editing, Nels Bangerter-IDA Awards