Tambay first wrote about this much anticipated documentary
by Jason Osder – Let the Fire Burn – in July (HERE), but I have to disagree with him
on one point.
He said that the controversial incident, which the documentary
is about, was a “widely-unfamiliar story”.
Well that’s not exactly true. I recall the incident quite vividly and, in fact,
it was a major media story in the country for weeks and the subject of much intense debate.
Burn chronicles the story which led to the infamous May 1985 standoff between the Philadelphia Police and a black radical,
back-to-nature, communal organization called MOVE.
People in the neighborhood constantly complained to authorities
about the compost piles the group kept in the back of the row house they lived in, and,
after attempts by the police to move the organization out of their house, there
was an armed standoff which resulted in a police officer being shot and killed.
After a shootout involving guns and tear gas, the police
decided to bomb the MOVE row house, resulting in, not surprisingly, total disaster and
tragedy. Several adults and children in the building died in the resulting fire
and the neighborhood was destroyed when the fire spread out of control and razed
some 60 homes in the area to the ground.
Films picked up the film for theatrical and eventual DVD and
VOD distribution, and after its premiere in early October at the Film Forum in
New York, Burn will then travel to Chicago where it will play an extended
two week run at the Gene Siskel Film Center
in downtown Chicago from Oct. 18-31.
There’s no trailer yet for the film, but here’s a video
of a Q & A with director Osder, taped at the Hot Docs Film Festival: