‘Let the Fire Burn’ tells searing story

Jason Osder has a childhood memory with which few of us can relate.

He was 11 years of age in 1985 when an entire Philadelphia, Pa., neighborhood erupted in flames. A black-separatist group called MOVE had engaged in a standoff with police. The long-standing feud between MOVE and the city’s police department ended very badly for everyone as the neighborhood caught fire — and it burned to the ground.

Osder grew up to become a filmmaker and he’s told the story of that horrible event in a documentary special to be broadcast Monday at 9 p.m. on Panhandle PBS. “Let the Fire Burn,” part of the Independent Lens documentary series broadcast regularly on Panhandle PBS, tells of the MOVE siege and the consequences of that incredible battle.

The filmmaker sat down with PBS for an interview. You can see it here:


The event brought into serious question the city’s use of force policy. It put the mayor on the hot seat. Hearings took place. Angry words were exchanged. The fallout from that event nearly three decades ago resonates today.

Osder said, “I think the MOVE story illustrates some essential questions that are still very relevant. Where in the world today is violence being done to people with no regard for their humanity? As police and military gain access to more deadly weapons, what are the safeguards as to how these weapons can be used on civilians? How is democratic society to deal with groups that are in open opposition to it and willing to risk their own lives and the lives of their children for their cause?”

“Let the Fire Burn” is Osder’s first documentary film, which won an award for best editing of a documentary feature at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Osder now teaches at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. He has a bright future in filmmaking, based on the reviews of his very first work.

For more on the film, take a look at this link:



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