Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

MOVE doc gets theatrical distribution, will open in fall

"Let the Fire Burn," Jason Osder's groundbreaking documentary investigation into the fatal 1985 West Philadelphia showdown between police and members of the radical MOVE group, has been acquired by Zeitgeist Films. Look for a fall release in Philadelphia.

MOVE doc gets theatrical distribution, will open in fall

Photo courtesy of Zeitgeist Films
Photo courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

Jason Osder spent ten years making Let the Fire Burn, a harrowing documentary account of the confrontation – and ensuing conflagration – between members of MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department, resulting in the death of six adult members of the Afrocentric back-to-nature organization, and five children.

The documentary -- which incorporates archival video from the MOVE Commission, police video, TV news footage, and a deposition interview with then 13-year-old Birdie Africa (now Michael Moses Ward), the sole child inside the MOVE compound to survive – premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Now, Zeitgeist Films has acquired Let the Fire Burn for theatrical release. The indie distributor, with Hannah Arendt currently in theaters, will open Osder’s picture on  Oct. 2 at the Film Forum in New York.  The film will debut in Philadelphia and other markets in the weeks thereafter.  

Noteworthy for its “historical verite” approach – no talking head interviews, no narration, no B-roll footage or reenactments – Let the Fire Burn brings the tragic events of May 13, 1985, back to life, forcing audiences to ask how police, Fire Department and city officials could stand by and watch as a helicopter dropped an incendiary device on the MOVE compound in West Philadelphia, and then let the subsequent fire rage into the night, ultimately leveling three city blocks and destroying 61 homes.

Osder, who grew up on Montgomery County and was 11 at the time of the MOVE bombing, is an assistant professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. Let the Fire Burn, his first feature-length title, is certain to be the subject of intense debate when it opens this fall.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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