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Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmaker #14: Reshaping American History With Jason Osder's 'Let the Fire Burn'

By Indiewire | Indiewire April 8, 2013 at 10:48AM

Jason Osder is an educator in and beyond the classroom. He is an assistant professor of media and public affairs at The George Washington University and a partner at Amigo Media. Amigo does color-correction for film and television in addition to Apple and Adobe certified training and consulting. He also creates educational online courses for Lynda.com and hopes to use his first feature length documentary, "Let the Fire Burn," as a springboard for conversations about our nation's history.
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Jason Osder
Jason Osder

Jason Osder is an educator in and beyond the classroom. He is an assistant professor of media and public affairs at The George Washington University and a partner at Amigo Media. Amigo does color-correction for film and television in addition to Apple and Adobe certified training and consulting. He also creates educational online courses for Lynda.com and hopes to use his first feature length documentary, "Let the Fire Burn," as a springboard for conversations about our nation's history.

What it's about: A decade of conflict between Philadelphia and the radical group MOVE spirals out of control. Eleven perish when city officials let the fire burn.

What else should audiences know?: "Let The Fire Burn" seeks to address a historical oversight. I strongly believe that the MOVE fire in Philadelphia should be part of American History, but in fact is not. I want this history to be more widely known by Americans so we have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes."

On the challenges: "People often ask me why no one has made this film before, and access to archival footage is the number one answer. Another major challenge was telling this complex story without making the movie excessively long. We edited out a lot of details."

What he hopes audiences will walk away with: "I want audiences to be emotionally engaged and morally challenged. It is more of a feeling than anything else,, and probably an unsettling feeling for most people. I want Tribeca audiences to leave with two images seared in their minds: a child's face and a raging fire. There is no comforting answer to how this incident happened. There is no immediate action for audience members to take to help right this wrong. Rather, they should be fundamentally challenged to look at the world more critically, to look for other instances where children are being sacrificed for the political goals of adults."

"Let the Fire Burn"
"Let the Fire Burn"

Films that inspired him: "Early on, "One Day in September" was a model for me. I was fascinated by the dramatic and emotional way it told a story from the past. Although we eventually abandoned the approach of relying on key interviews with participants to make our film. "Fog of War" is an inspiration for the way it treats history not as a smooth flow toward a clear conclusion, but rather a subject fraught with half-truths and outright lies. It’s fragmented, open to interpretation, and ultimately morally troubling. "The Oath" is an inspiration for moral complexity. I am not interested in good guys and bad guys, but real people and the complexity of their motivations. Finally, "Night and Fog" is an inspiration; so beautiful and so troubling. This film was formative for me. I wish to shake up 'those of us who pretend to believe that all this happened only once, at a certain time and in a certain place, and those who refuse to see, who do not hear the cry to the end of time.'

What's next: "I have begun working with an academic colleague to research another incident from 1985: the assassination of an Arab-American activist in southern California."

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.





Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Tribeca Film Festival, Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers