Top 5 Most Influential Films {Guest Post}

by R. Shanea Williams

R. Shanea Williams, writer, filmaker, and script consultant

My dream to become a filmmaker has been a life-long one. It wasn’t until 2013 and 2014 though that the dream was not only realized but was celebrated. I wrote and directed my award-winning second short film “Contamination” which was officially selected for 8 film festivals and nominated for several awards.

I’m often asked about the films that I love which is almost an impossible question because so many films have affected in me in so many ways. But one thing I am very clear about is the films that have had to strongest influence on me and films that I continue to use as inspiration as I continue my film career.

Below is my painstaking list of the top 5 films that have influenced me and inspired me most as a filmmaker.
  1. DO THE RIGHT THING (Dir: Spike Lee, 1989): What makes this film the most influential film in my life is that it’s the film that made me want to be a filmmaker. Up until I saw this film, I was simply content with pursuing a career as a writer. When I saw this film, I was completely mesmerized. It was visually stunning, poetic, and absolutely riveting. This film pretty much changed everything for me. 
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  2. KILLER OF SHEEP (Dir: Charles Burnett, 1981): This is an amazing little film exploring the life of a weary man who works at a slaughterhouse and his personal struggles and frustrations in his family. What is absolutely superb about this gritty masterpiece is the use of Italian neo-realism to illuminate the lives of everyday working class African Americans in Watts. This film really opened up eternal possibilities about the stories I wanted to tell and the way I wanted to tell them. There are scenes in this film that are etched on my brain because of their profound emotional punch.
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  3. EVE’S BAYOU (Dir: Kasi Lemmons, 1997): This film is exquisitely shot and the story is deeply compelling. There are wonderful performances in this southern gothic drama about an upper middle class black family in the Louisiana bayou in 1962. There is so much texture in this film and in its layered story that it feels like cinematic literature. The moody atmosphere, the supernatural themes, and the messy emotional bonds of family hold me hostage with every repeat viewing.
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  4. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (Dir: Wong Kar Wai, 2001): I would not be exaggerating if I labeled this film ‘cinematic perfection.’ It is brilliantly shot. The imagery is lush, beautiful and every moment seems to be so elegantly choreographed, the film feels like a musical symphony. Wong Kar Wai has been one of my favorite directors for the past 15 years or so when I discovered his work in college. It opened me up to Asian cinema and foreign cinema in general. This film is incredibly moving with breathtaking visuals and I can only hope to one day make a film as staggering as this.
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  5. AMORES PERROS (Dir: Alejandro Inarritu, 2000): This film explores three stories connected to a traumatic incident in Mexico City. The first time I saw this, I was absolutely blown away by how perfectly the stories weaved together and how emotionally riveting the storylines were. The film speaks very strongly to the theme of human fragility and that captivated me. It had a powerful effect on me, opening me up to new ways to tell stories and express universal themes. If I could tie this film with another it would probably be Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” because in a similar way it opened me up to exciting ways to explore characters and stories. But “Amores Perros” resonates more because the heart in this film just beats so loudly, so strongly it can’t be denied.
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About R. Shanea Williams:
R. Shanea Williams is a writer, filmmaker and script consultant who currently resides in Queens, New York. She directed her second short film “Contamination” in 2013. This acclaimed and award-winning short film blazed the festival circuit in 2014. Williams is a movie buff, a music junkie, and a proud nerd. Follow her on twitter @rshanea722.

Currently she is excited to begin work on her next film “Paralysis.” Which she launched an Indiego-go campaign for. See details here:

Thank you, R. Shanea Williams for this guest post.  I think I need to rent a couple of movies to catch up on this short list.  Time to cash in my free movie rental code I received for Christmas.  And what about you, my readers?  What movies make your most influential list?

Stop by tomorrow, for more details on R. Shanea Williams' new short film, Paralysis.


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