Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#documentaryreview catching up with: Let the Fire Burn


While fires burned in Ferguson last night, I finally finished watching the now streaming, found footage 2013 documentary Let the Fire Burn. With tension-filled chapters, editing that turns old tv news reporting into a thriller, and a commission which looks deep into our social soul, the film shows how and why in 1985 Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a house occupied by the mostly-black MOVE activist group. The bomb dropped from the sky on U.S. citizens inside a home killed 11 of them, including five trapped children, and destroyed dozens of surrounding homes as well.



MOVE is still operational and will hold commemorations on May 13, 2015, on the 30 year anniversary of the bombing. The group's website promotes the film, even though through effective editing filmmaker Jason Osder treats the bombing and the group itself in a sober, journalistic, sometimes even critical way. The group's spokeswoman, Ramona Africa, the fire's only adult survivor, knows how to express herself, and she made this clear at a film q and a panel when she argued with the only Philadelphia policeman portrayed as a hero in the movie, Jim Berghaier -- he helped save the only child survivor, won police awards, but suffered from PTSD and was labeled by some a "n* lover." Even so there is no love lost between him and Africa.



These conversations need to take place, and for me the coinciding events of watching my twitter feed light up from Ferguson and simultaneously streaming Let the Fire Burn shows yet again we need many, many more documentaries exploring such topics, and many, many more community panels to discuss and improve police conduct and social understanding within our urban centers.

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