Man on Fire
December 17, 2018
Man on Fire explores a community dealing with the aftermath of a shocking public suicide.
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About the Documentary
June 23, 2014: A 79-year-old white Methodist minister named Charles Moore drove to an empty parking lot in his old hometown of Grand Saline, Texas, and set himself on fire. He left a note on his car’s windshield explaining that this act was his final protest against the virulent racism of the community and his country at large. Man on Fire goes back to Grand Saline – population 3,266 – to try to uncover the truth about the town’s ugly past and the fervor for God and justice that drove Moore to his shocking final act.
This horrifying moment intertwines with a town’s history that almost no one seems to want to talk about.
Grand Saline, home to one of Morton’s largest salt mines, has always had a reputation as a town unhospitable to African Americans. Oral history has it that there were signs at each end of the town warning African Americans to leave before sunset, and stories of lynchings and beheadings are well-known. Although the town fathers claim the stories are just rumors, African Americans from neighboring towns still avoid passing through. The shroud of secrecy ended when Charles Moore self-immolated and the media took note.
The film raises the specter of mystery around Reverend Moore’s motives and why his neighbors are so reluctant to face the implications of his grisly act.
Joel Fendelman (director/producer) has written, produced, and directed a number of award-winning narrative and documentary films. His achievements include winning the IDA Documentary Award for Man on Fire, premiering his short film Game Night at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and winning numerous awards for his first and second narrative feature films, Remittance and David, including Best Screenplay at the Brooklyn Film Festival in 2016 and the prestigious Ecumenical Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2011. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Texas, Austin. He currently resides in New York City.
International Documentary Association
David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award
Slamdance Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature (Nominee)
San Luis Obispo Film Festival
Best Student Award
Sidewalk Film Festival
Feature Film Programmers Choice Award
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Join the Discussion
How can tragedy be used for people to find common ground? What responsibility does a community have to answer to a situation like this? Has your community ever had a dark secret in its past that was never discussed?Comments