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Filmmaker Screens “Let the Fire Burn” Feb. 11
Location: William Smith Hall
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The award-winning filmmaker whose documentary Let the Fire Burn revisits the 1985 police bombing of the radical MOVE compound in Philadelphia and its tragic aftermath will visit Washington College on Wednesday, February 11, for a screening and discussion. The free event with director and producer Jason Osder will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Norman James Theater, William Smith Hall.
The event chronicled in Osder’s film took place in May, 1985, at 6221 Osage Street, a row house where the radical African-American organization was headquartered. After days of confrontation and gunfire exchanges, police bombed the MOVE rowhouse from a helicopter. The bombing and the raging fire that followed killed 11 people, including five children, and destroyed 61 homes.
Osder, an assistant professor at The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, was 11 years old and living on the outskirts of Philadelphia at the time of the bombing and recalls it as a formative event. “I remember being truly scared. I was struck that the children killed in the house were my own age, living in my own town. Their parents and the police had utterly failed to protect them.”
Let the Fire Burn relies heavily on archival news footage and court hearings. At the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, it won awards for Best New Documentary Director and Best Documentary Editing. A reviewer for Screen International wrote that the film moves with the force of a courtroom drama and “ripples with moral complexity,” and Filmmaker Magazine called it a “masterpiece about an astounding moment in American history.” Watch the official trailer here.
– Kaitlyn Fowler ’17