With the amount of documentaries being made each year now – thankfully – numbering in the eighties, ‘Let the Fire Burn’ has plenty of competition vying for documentary fans attention at the local multiplex.
Taking its title from the words uttered by the Mayor of Philadelphia during the 1985 stand-off between police and a local group (MOVE). A stand-off which resulted in the death of 11 MOVE members (many of them children) and the destruction of three blocks of local homes.
As with some of the best documentaries of recent years (Senna amongst them) the film-makers have opted against a voice-over narration, instead allowing the archive news footage, interviews and testimonies to tell the story.
The film sets its stall out early and makes it clear that the battle is not black versus white but authority against everyone else.
Throughout the film, your alliances flip between the authorities and the MOVE members but ultimately you’re left with the feeling that the local residents are the innocent victims.
3OW saw LTFB as part of the DARE series at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. A series of films billed as ‘In-your-face, up-front and arresting: films that take you out of your comfort zone.’ Let the Fire Burn was definitely all of these things and – during the current rose-tinted harking back to the 1980’s – this film proves that not everything that decade was great.