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An Introduction to The Brother from Another Planet

5 Jun 2013

The Brother from Another Planet screens at 8pm on 5 June 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas as part of Ballroom’s New Growth Film Program, co-curated by Rashid Johnson and Josh Siegel, MoMA. Admission is free and open to the public.

An Introduction to John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet

Last week’s film, Space Is the Place, extolled the virtues of a transcendent science fiction aimed at elevating the black population beyond its earthbound social state to the forgotten and immortal path beyond the stars through music. This week’s film, The Brother from Another Planet, inverts Sun Ra’s Afro-futurist and escapist rhetoric, offering a parabolic albeit comedic exploration of life in Harlem in 1984.

Written, directed and edited by independent filmmaker John Sayles, The Brother from Another Planet stars Joe Morton as an escaped slave from outer space, who resembles a black human being everywhere except in his feet. He lands in the ocean off of Ellis Island and blankly makes his way to Harlem where he must quickly learn about an abstract monetary system, class struggle and racial divide without using language, as he cannot speak. Sayles’ choice to make him mute turns the brother into a sort of mirror for society and leads to nuanced satire on immigration and assimilation.