Independent filmmaker John Sayles made his feature debut with the 1980 drama Return of the Secaucus 7 and went on to earn two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for Passion Fish (1992) and Lone Star (1996). After having filmed the 1983 dramas Baby It’s You and Lianna, this director with a B.A. in psychology became the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (known as the “Genius Grant”), which he used to make the science fiction movie The Brother from Another Planet. Starring Joe Morton, Sayles’ low-budget gem centers around an African-American humanoid alien who gets stranded on Earth after his spaceship crashes on Ellis Island.

Three-toed, mute and equipped with healing powers, the visitor from outer space is left completely baffled by his surroundings, as he meets a wide array of peculiar characters and finds himself in situations he struggles to make sense of. Sayles’ movie is a wonderful satire that mirrors back to us just how far we have not come as a society in terms of equality and acceptance. The perspective of an outsider who was not conditioned into living in our highly dysfunctional society here on Earth provides the viewers with an opportunity to re-evaluate their numerous detrimental belief systems that are often taken at face value. And therein lies The Brother’s true brilliance.