The Fire This Time

Director: Randy Holland
Screenwriters: Randy Holland

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


Randy Holland's thoughtful documentary takes the 1992 Los Angeles riots as a starting point for a history of the Los Angeles black community viewed from within. Using archival and current newsreel footage, Holland traces the roots of the unrest to the earlier disenfranchisement of black migrants to Los Angeles from the South. Interviews with public figures such as Betty Shabazz (Malcolm X's widow) and former Atlanta mayor Andre Young, as well as residents and community leaders in South Central LA, show how the failure to address problems of poverty, joblessness and inadequate educational resources after the 1965 Watts riots demoralized a lively black culture and guaranteed that history would repeat itself with greater intensity.

In Holland's provocative film, the combative posture of the Black Panthers during the 1960s and 1970s is played down and they appear as a major source of community cohesion. Their decimation by the Los Angeles Police Department left a vacuum of leadership in which the more nihilistic youth gangs of the 1970s and 1980s look root. Though Holland acknowledges the self-destructive aspects of the gangs, in particular their role in terrorizing their own community, he glides rather too quickly over the complex interracial conflicts that resulted in the targeting of Asian shopkeepers. That said, The Fire This Time stands as an intelligent and lively antidote to the mainstream news media's focus on isolated events.

Friday Jan 21 1:40 pm
Holiday Village Cinema III

Sunday Jan 23 4:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Wednesday Jan 26 10:40 am
Holiday Village Cinema III

Saturday Jan 29 4:40 pm
Holiday Village Cinema III


— Ella Taylor

Screening Details


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