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The Independent Critic

Mia Ando, Momoka Takahashi, Xiaowan Zhang, Molly Flanagan, Becky Brown, Rey Marz
Susumu Kimura
18 Mins.

 "Submittan" Continues on International Fest Circuit 
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It's the near future in the city of Submittan. Overpopulation is impacting daily life and the city's response is the creation of an isolated area referred to only as "The Mountain," a place where citizens over the age of 80 are sent to "retire." Very little is known about this area and those who go there are never seen again. Some say it is heavenly. Others, well...

This is the world created by writer/director Susumu Kimura in the 18-minute short film Submittan, a film that feels simultaneously like fantasy and very real-life. The film centers around Chase (Mia Ando), an immigrant artist and struggling mother of two who finds herself in the middle of this conflict when her design for a propaganda poster promoting this mysterious place takes off overnight. Suddenly, Chase is able to feed her children. But, at what cost?

As Chase, Mia Ando gives a mesmerizing performance capturing all the inner turmoil of a mother struggling with a sense of duty and the inherent moral conflicts in the choices that she is making. Ando's facial expressions speak volumes, her silences as impactful as her bringing to life Kimura's disciplined and precise dialogue. The way that Chase soaks in the words and the actions of those around her is thoughtful and intuitive, a particular encounter with Molly Flanagan's Molly particularly impressive. Flanagan's performance, as well, is absolutely jarring in a brief yet meaningful appearance. 

Kimura has assembled a fine ensemble cast for Submittan, Momoka Takahashi riveting as Greta and Xiaowan Zhang equally impressive as Hannah. This world that is created is filled with a tension that radiates through each encounter, Daga Malinska's lensing for the film absolutely magnifying that claustrophobic sense of paranoia. The original score by Charlotte Partt is immersive and practically wraps itself around us. Kudos as well to Lisa Nagai for a production design that beautifully portrays this world where nothing is as it seems yet reality is right there on the surface. 

Submittan started its festival journey early this year and has screened at such fests as Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Marina del Rey Film Festival, Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, and others. In December, the film screens at Shockfest Film Festival - a clear indicator that while it's subtle the film does have elements of horror within it. 

Kimura admirably captures this alternative sort of universe, a place where we understand why the propaganda works and how those who lead are able to capitalize on those for whom devotion is everything. Submittan gets under your skin with a message that lingers in the psyche long after the closing credits have rolled. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic