This is sponsored content provided by MyJoy Films.

“Joy takes us into a world of ancestry and race and makes us wonder about the power of karma.” — Downtown L.A. Film Festival

For three consecutive Saturdays in April, the general public will have an opportunity to enjoy a complimentary sneak preview of director Joy Shannon’s film My Dead Selfie. This award-winning supernatural thriller is Shannon’s first venture into the macabre.

The film made its debut at the Downtown L.A. Film Festival, which described the movie as a film where “themes of race and identity clash with the darkness of the occult. A seemingly perfect interracial marriage is tested when the husband begins practicing black magic passed down to him by his slave-owning ancestors.”

Shannon is just one of the small, new breed of cutting-edge African-American filmmakers who are raising the audience’s adrenaline by venturing into the horror film market.

When My Dead Selfie premiered to a receptive audience, it was the validation Shannon needed for her first daring journey into the supernatural genre. She felt on top of the world after winning the Best Experimental Feature Film Award from the very competitive and prestigious Downtown L.A. Film Festival. Shannon was also ecstatic over the reception of the first screening. Members of the audience approached her with comments like, “It creeped me out.” or said it was “a very strong film!” One woman told her that it “reminds her of the work of Octavia Butler.” Shannon was both humbled and blown away by that comparison. Another attendee came up to her and said the film “could be a cult classic.” At this point, Shannon says, she felt that her presence was completely justified in the popular horror genre market and pledged to continue to make powerful and impactful films.

Credit: Courtesy MyJoy Films

Credit: Courtesy MyJoy Films

Shannon is gaining recognition as one of the African-American women mavericks who make up a nontraditional new breed of filmmaker. When asked why an African-American woman would make a ghost story on race relationships, she explains, “In horror, you are teased with the unexpected. African-American female filmmakers are more prevalent in producing films with themes of love, comedy or dating relationships. I wanted to do something boldly different. That is, something that would address the exploitation of black women in an eerie way.

“On a microcosm, the dynamics of horror films and racism are similar: a sense of feeling trapped, singled out and often attacked, and consciously and subconsciously kept in one’s place,” she added. “Aware of the public’s appetite, my film is staged in a world of lies, deceit and trickery, all in a haunted house. This adds to the appealing elements of the film. And through this prism, I tried to tap in on the karma from slavery and its impact on a married interracial couple in the present day.”

Influenced by Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby and Get Out, Shannon took the essence of the three iconic films to awaken the fear and disgust of the world for her characters, Ginger and Hal.

Working on a tiny budget, Shannon and her skeleton crew were presented with challenges, but not at the expense or integrity of the film. Her terrific cast skillfully created layers of supernatural suspense. Lead actress Sharena Walker, who plays Ginger, made her acting debut in the feature Torment — A Love Story. Her credits include recent episodes of Upscale with Prentiss Penny and the Discovery Channel’s Deadly Sins.

AJ Garrett and Sharena Walker; Credit: Courtesy MyJoy Films

AJ Garrett and Sharena Walker; Credit: Courtesy MyJoy Films

AJ Garrett plays the lead of Hal and two additional roles. AJ has been acting professionally for a number of years. He has an impressive résumé after studying acting at the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television and the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute in New York City. He has acted in both film and theater, receiving the coveted Off Off Broadway Review Award for a Thornton Wilder play.

Composer Chris Amato’s haunting music is an integral part of driving the pace and setting the tone of the film, combining the supernatural with historical events. The music drives the theme by opening with a poignant and evocative a capella slave song written and sung by C. Felicia Val’Rey.

“My Dead Selfie” is produced by Joy Shannon and Miriam Holder-Jacobs, co-produced by Jonathan Burnett and associate produced by Joy Parris.

There will be three complimentary sneak-preview screenings of My Dead Selfie at three Laemmle theaters as follows, and all of Los Angeles is invited! Please join Joy Shannon and her cast and crew.

Saturday, April 13, 10:30 a.m., Town Center Theater, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino (lower level)
Saturday, April 20, 10:30 a.m., NoHo Theater, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood
Saturday, April 27, 10:30 a.m., Royal Theater, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.

The running time is 98 minutes. First come, first seated. No tickets are needed. A brief Q&A will follow.

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