A Career Retrospective
By Michael Dunaway
For many, John Sayles is the quintessential American independent filmmaker. His 1979 debut Return of the Secaucus Seven immediately established him as a new kind of filmmaker, and along with contemporaries Jim Jarmusch, John Waters, and David Lynch, helped bridge the gap from indie pioneers like Robert Altman and John Cassavetes to the early-’90s birth of the modern American indie-film movement, ignited by Steven Soderbergh and Richard Linklater.
His subsequent career has been littered with highlights as well. His 1984 film The Brother From Another Planet, about a black alien stranded in Harlem, was far ahead of...