Man on Fire

Man on Fire

  • BY Joel Fendelman | IN Race & Ethnicity
    Premiered December 17, 2018

About the Film

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. MORE

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.

The Filmmakers

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.

James Chase Sanchez (producer) is an Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at Middlebury College. His research interests are in cultural and racial rhetorics, public memory, and writing assessment, and his research has appeared or is forthcoming in College Composition and Communication, Pedagogy, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, Present Tense, and Writing Program Administration. Sanchez has long been fascinated with the stories of his hometown, Grand Saline, TX, and will be completing an academic manuscript about it in the next couple of years. LESS

Film Credits

Directed, Produced and Edited by
Joel Fendelman

Produced by
James Chase Sanchez

Joel Fendelman

Original Music
Gil Talmi

Production Sound Mixer
Rodd Simonsen

Additional Sound Mixers
Ben Lieberman
Matthew Kluchin
Andrew Twenter

Producer of Marketing & Distribution
Sandra Bertalanffy

Legal Counsel
Orly Ravid

Inspired by
"Man on Fire" by Michael Hall

"Preaching Behind the Fiery Pulpit: Rhetoric, Self-Immolation, and Public Memory" by James Chase Sanchez

Samantha Adams
Jack Albright
Elvis Allen
Terry B. Allen
Stephen P. Basile
Charles E. Cox
Gallaway Darby
Gerardo De La Fuente
Bert R. Fite
Wiley Garland
Buddy Guy
Sid Hall
Jeff Hood
Ira Jones
Tomasa King
Brandon Kirkpatrick
Emily McGauphy
Michael C. Mclendon
Doyle Milliorn
Billy Ray Monk
Thomas Monk
Guy Moore
Linda Moore
Lisa Morrison
Mallie Munn
Kathy Renfro
William C. Renfro
Wayne Sloan
Bruce Smilie
Andy Smith
Lou Snead
Roland Stevens
Haward Stone
Richard Taylor
Terry Tolar
Donald E. Vickery
Paul Von Wupperfeld
Rex White
Camialle Wesley
Frank Woods
Chet Yant
Ruthie D. Young


Sullivan Rauzi

Assistant Director
Garrett Forbes

Caleb Kuntz

Production Designer
Joseph Bowman

Production Coordinator
Alicja Zapalska

Makeup Artist
Elizabeth Van Sickle

Michael Bakowski

Best Boy
Eric Morton

Tanner Nichols

1st Assistant Camera
Sarah Hicks

2nd Assistant Camera
Dylan Tidmore

Production Assistant
Sarah Schneider

Sound Design
Will Harrell

Re-recording Mixer
Evan Dunivan

Colorist and Titles
Daniel Stuyck

Hair Stylist
Aly Piechocki

Pyrotechnics Team
Big Dog Pyro

Charles Moore - Ron Blanton
Guy with Shirt - Adam Jorgensen
Guy with Fire Extinguisher - Eric Morton
Police Officer - Garrett Forbes
Wife - Cynthia Rauzi
Voice of Police Dispatcher - Sandra Bertalanffy

Camera Consultant
Mark Johnson

Tracy Dahlby
Michael Hall
Anne Lewis
Paul Stekler

Post-Production Technical Support
Jeremy Gruy
Tom Herod Jr.
Susanne Kraft
Bobby Mims

Visual Consultant
Ben Ellsworth-Feher

Titles Consultant
Eugene Kolb

DCP Producer
Keefe Boerner

“Annie Lisle”
Written by H.S. Thompson
Performed by Grand Saline High School Band
Courtesy of Man on Fire Productions LLC

“Wink 183”
Written, Produced, and Performed by Andrew Gross & Phil Cordaro
Courtesy of Konsonant Music

Special Thanks
Rima Abanasser
Austin Film Society
Austin Fire Department
Ellen and James Best
Ron and Kathleen Blanton
Christian Briones
Bygone Treasures
Kathy Calnan
Thomas R. Calnan
Lauren Castro
City of Austin Film Commission
City of Grand Saline
Harry Clifford
Bobby Colacino
Marshall Cook
Sheylon Cook
County Clerk's Office Austin
Louis Cumby
The Dairy Palace
Michael Daly
Patrick Daly
Les Darcey
Joetta V. Davis
Tim Davis
Mark Dennis
Don's Dairy Bar
Quelia Dos Santos
Chris Eska
James Fendelman
Jimmy Ferguson
Gersain Francisco
George Garrett
Vanessa Gould
Breona Griffin
Donald Griffin
Phyllis and David Grossman
Norma Guerra
Isaac Gutierrez
Shelby Hadden
Don Howard
Jayden Jacobs
Wendy Joffe
Joshua Keenan
Kerry A. Kindle
John Knowlton
Kristen Lacefield
Don Latham
Monica Lewis
Main Street Baptist Church
Rachel McClendon
Stephen McClendon
Verlin McClendon
Cecil McCoy
Lauriano Mendoza
Ruben Mendoza
Jorge Miranda
The Old City Pharmacy
Marcos Ortega
Jan and Pat Patterson
Senatra Pink
Prairie Creek Episcopal Church
Nancee Reddick
Lincoln E. Robinson
The Salt Palace
Ashton Sauseda
Sherry Sloan
Southern Baptist of Texas Convention
Dustin Stewart
Brian Strickland
Van Zandt County Genealogical Society
Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office
Rebecca Veach
Diane P. Wilt
Clotene Young
Jan Young
Lauren Young
Lewis Young
Jose Zapata

Funding Provided by
The University of Texas at Austin
Moody College of Communication
through The Innovation Fund
and the Department of Radio Television Film’s Nick Cominos Award for Documentary Filmmaking

MAN ON FIRE is a production of Man On Fire Productions, LLC.

This program was produced by Man On Fire Productions, LLC which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2017 Man On Fire Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.

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?


  • 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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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?