R. Shanea Williams Discusses Psychological Thriller, Paralysis

Interview by Iman Childs, Reel Sisters Correspondent

Tickets to See Paralysis!

The 2016 Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival is approaching quickly! We decided to give you an inside look at a few of the over 40 films showing at this year’s festival on October 22 and 23, 2016. We recently sat down with R. Shanea Williams, a Reel Sisters Festival alumna whose short film, Contamination, screened in 2014. She is the recipient of our 2016 Reel Sisters Best Screenplay Award for Paralysis.

Williams is returning to Reel Sisters with Paralysis, a psychological thriller starring award-winning actress Nia Fairweather. A young woman with a sleep disorder begins to question her own sanity after sensing a supernatural presence in her new apartment.

“I always wanted to do a psychological thriller or horror film. I love the genre. We’re so under represented as protaganists as Black people, as people of color in the genre so I thought it would be a really exciting idea to try to create a film like this,” says Williams.

“My influences were definitely psychological thrillers like Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant, Hitchcock and the way he tries to create suspense [using] that feeling of unease and dread. The Shining is one of my all time favorites. It is one of those films that doesn’t leave your mind. I was trying to find a way to do that in my own way [create] something that stays with you after the credits roll.”

Watch the interview to hear Williams discuss her cinematic influences, putting together a dynamic cast and crew, and working to bring more diversity to horror films.




About R. Shanea Williams

Shanea Williams graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Virginia in 2003. She also holds a MFA in Screenwriting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing Program, which she earned in 2008. There, she was awarded the Venable Herndon Graduate Screenwriting Award for Excellence.

Williams was a Top 12 Virginia Governor’s Screenplay Finalist in 2001, Quarterfinalist in the Slamdance Screenwriter’s Competition in 2007, a Top 5 Screenplay Finalist at the Urbanworld Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition in 2011 and a Quarterfinalist in the 2016 Richmond International Film Festival Screenplay Competition.

She directed her award-winning second short film Contamination in 2013. In 2014, Contamination blazed the film festival circuit as an official selection for many film festivals including the Urbanworld Film Festival, BronzeLense Film Festival, Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and The Richmond International Film Festival, where she received the Rising Star Award.

Tickets $10: Paralysis