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Let the Fire Burn

Jason Osder
USA 2013 / 95’

Established in the 1970s, the African-American group MOVE was fundamentally different from other hippy communes in its adherence to the ideal of a return to nature. The group was primarily an urban entity. Instead of a secluded farm, its headquarters was in a working-class district of Philadelphia, which is what gave rise to its later troubles. It was difficult to hide certain things from the neighbors, such as their radical views, boarded-up windows, homes with no electricity, and children running around naked who ate only raw vegetables and fruit. The members of the group also manifested their rejection of technology and a return to their roots by changing their names – they all went by the name Africa. A lot of problems were caused by the megaphone on the roof that the members of MOVE used to call on their "brothers" to fight the system. There were confrontations with the police on a daily basis, as well as complaints from the neighbors. After several unsuccessful attempts to evict them, the police fired on the commune, then bombed it, and calmly watched as the building and its surroundings were consumed by fire. Inside, both adults and children were burned alive. Firefighters were prevented from helping under the pretext of the high risk. Jason Osder explores what happened behind the scenes of this infamous episode in Philadelphia’s history in one of the most-talked-about, multi-award-winning documentary films from last year.

Ewa Szabłowska


Gotham Awards 2013 (best documentary); Independent Spirit Awards 2014 (Truer Than Fiction Award); International Documentary Association 2013 - Creative Recognition Award; Philadelphia Film Festival 2013 - Best Local Feature; Tribeca Film Festival 2013 - Best New Documentary Director - Special Jury Mention, Best Editing

Jason Osder

Assistant professor at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs and president of Amigo Media, a postproduction boutique and consultancy. He is co-author of Final Cut Pro Workflows: The Independent Studio Handbook, with Robbie Carman, his partner at Amigo. Let the Fire Burn is his first feature film.


2013 Nich płonie ogień / Let the Fire Burn

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Cast & Crew

director Jason Osder
screenplay Jason Osder
editing Nels Bangerter
music Christopher Mangum
cast Birdie Africa, John Africa, Ramona Africa
producer Jason Osder, Andrew Herwitz
production Amigo Media
sales The Film Sales Company
language English
colouration colour