by Adam Schartoff
April 3rd, 2014

One of my favorite documentaries from last year is Let The Fire Burn. Its filmmaker, Jason Osder, is the first guest on this episode of the podcast. Jason and I met at BAM where Let the Fire Burn had a screening as part of the New Voices in Black Film series which transpired last weekend. (My guests Deidre Schoo & Michael Beach Nichols also had their new documentary, Flex is Kings, at the same festival.) Let the Fire Burn recently became available on demand, on digital platforms, and on DVD thanks to Zeitgeist Films. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial Black Power group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated—and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.

Next up are the Brooklyn-based filmmakers Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols who have an exciting new documentary hitting theaters this Friday, April 4th, called Flex is Kings. Flex Is Kings documents the hopes and realities of the under-acknowledged and totally unfunded group of Brooklyn artists behind the urban dance movement called flexing. The filmmakers have followed a group of dancers for over two years and have shot over 275 hours of film.

Sabine Krayenbühl is a friend and ex-neighbor of mine. She and her creative partner, Zeva Oelbaum, have launched a Kickstarter campaign for their latest project, a documentary feature called Letters From Baghdad, about a lesser known historical figure named Gertrude Bell. Once considered the most powerful woman of her day in the British Empire, Gertrude is credited for drawing the borders of Iraq and for finding the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities, which was infamously ransacked during the American invasion in 2003. Overshadowed after her death for nearly a century by the legend of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), she left behind an extraordinary cache of letters and photographs that reveal what it really meant to be a woman ahead of her time.

Filmwax Radio is presented by Rooftop Films. Like us on Facebook.


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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.


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