So far, it’s easy to say that Burn is leading the pack at Tribeca Film Festival. Though ScreenCrave got here for the tail end of the festival, we’re doing out best to catch up as quickly as possible and there’s no better way to kick things off than with talking about Burn, quite easily one of the most heart-wrenching, relevant, and accessible documentaries I’ve seen for some time….

The Players:

  • Director: Tom Putnam, Brenna Sanchez
  • Screenwriter: Brenna Sanchez, Tom Putnam


Detroit has gone for booming, to burning. With massive unemployment rates, the city ha s crumbled. In the film they say “it’s like Hurricane Katrine was to New Orleans, but there was no hurricane.” Empty house everyone are left as kindling. And though the department is known for fighting fire “with balls” with ill-equipped trucks and a serious lack of funding, there’s only so much these heroes can do.

The Good:

  • The Heart: If there’s one thing that fire-fighters have got, it’s heart, and it would be impossible for a film to properly represent them with out. Luckily, this film has got that extra something that makes it more than just a piece of cinema, but a journey into the lives of these heroes.
  • The Many Perspectives: All of these men had incredibly interesting stories to follow and were all worthy of film of their own (hey, maybe that would help with their budget crisis?) but this is a film about the bigger picture and they did a great job at not only showing all the different sides of the department, but also of the entire system. Everyone had an angle and a reason for doing what they were doing, and everyone felt fairly represented.
  • Editing/Music: This is a heavy film, with a lot of sadness and a lot of despair, but somehow it never managed to lose momentum. Between the well paced story line that never hangs too long in the slower, sadder beats, and some much needed bursts of lively music, the film clips right along and is extremely easy to consume.
  • The Why: With all the challenges this film shows, from the lack of funds in the system to these men saving lives and putting their lives on the line for others, it’s hard not to wonder, why would anyone want to do this? The film does a great but subtle job at showing you a bit of why every person on the team not only loves this, but needs this in their lives.

The Bad:

  • Little Upside: For as great as the film and filmmaking is in Burn,the situation that they’re in is so dire and they’re receiving such little help, that you leave the theater feeling overwhelmed and dare I say depressed. There needed to be more of a call to action at the end of the film, because it makes you want to help so badly, but it doesn’t give you a way to do it. And man is that depressing.


It’s a great film, one worthy of watching and surprisingly fun to do so at times, but it will leave you with a heavy heart. Watch, enjoy and be ready.

Rating: 8/10