The oldest documentaries were simple displays of whatever the camera caught with very little editing. Only later did it become in vogue to fill the run time of a documentary with talking heads and artificial reenactments. Let the Fire Burn is refreshing in its use of only archival footage. There are no new interviews, no commentary from behind the camera. You’re given the story of the Philadelphia Police Department’s bombing of the headquarters of the MOVE Organization via filmed news segments from the time, former documentaries, and live (from 1985, that is) footage. This could have been boring, I suppose, the story is riveting. And the story is in the editing; director Jason Osder has sewn all the pieces together to show you that sometimes checks and balances aren’t enough to prevent injustice.
Quicker take: Ferguson wasn’t the first, nor was it the worst.