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Let the Fire Burn

  • Maysles Cinema 343 Lenox Avenue New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Jason Osder, 2013, 95 min

In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, director Jason Osder has crafted that rarest of cinematic objects: a found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated—and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to “...let the fire burn.” Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.

Q&A with director Jason Osder, the film's composer Chris Mangum, and Pam Africa of MOVE to follow.

This program follows and is in conversation with:

Apollo Uptown Hall: Movement Required
Saturday, September 30th, 4:00pm
at the Apollo Theater
253 West 125th Street

The Apollo Theater has been a cultural mecca while also historically being a gathering place for people --ranging from lay people to activists to U.S. Presidents-- to connect and discuss what’s on their minds. This is captured by the Apollo Uptown Hall community conversation series. Motivated by the themes from the Apollo and Opera Philadelphia’s upcoming opera, We Shall Not Be Moved, Apollo Uptown Hall: Movement Required will feature a brief excerpt of the award-winning documentary Let the Fire Burn, and will then focus on some of today’s problems in Urban America the film addresses, particularly law enforcement and community relations and the lack of youth and family services. What can we do within our communities? What can New Yorkers learn from Philadelphia initiatives, and vice-versa? And can the arts help?

Co-moderated by Imhotep Gary Byrd from New York City’s WBAI-FM and Solomon Jones from Philadelphia’s WURD-AM/FM.

Apollo Uptown Hall: Movement Required is a free event but tickets are required.  Please visit for more details and to RSVP.

After Apollo Uptown Hall: Movement Required, the Apollo Theater is partnering with the Maysles Cinema for a full screening of the gripping and award-winning film, Let the Fire Burn, about the confrontations between MOVE and the Philadelphia government on Sunday, October 1st at 5:00pm. A 10% discount will be given to those who show a ticket for either Apollo Uptown Hall: Movement Required or We Shall Not Be Moved or a receipt from Revolution Books when purchasing a Let the Fire Burn ticket at the Maysles. Additionally, your tickets will give you 10% off purchases at Revolution Books, until Oct. 15. For more info, visit

Earlier Event: September 30
BPPFF9: Long Distance Revolutionary
Later Event: October 6
BPPFF9: All Power To The People