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The Independent Critic

Dan Lam, Zoe Cunningham, Steve Peck, Katharine Davenport
Marianna Dean
Christopher R. Brown
15 Mins.

 "Symptoms" Set for European Premiere at Leeds 
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In Marianna Dean's 15-minute short film Symptoms, Sam (Dan Lam) is a trainee doctor who learns more than he expected when he shows up to take his final exam. Symptoms will have its European premiere at the Oscar/BAFTA qualifying Leeds International Film Festival where it is also nominated in the British Short Film Competition at the beginning of November. The film has already been an official selection at the L.A. Independent Film Festival Awards and picked up a prize for Best Screenplayat the 4th Indian Cine Film Festival.

The film likely portrays a world not quite as familiar to American moviegoers, though moviegoers globally will resonate with its rich story and with Lam's sensitive and intelligent portrayal of Sam, whose body language says so much even when Sam himself is being incredibly quiet. Zoe Cunningham gives a tremendous performance as Amy, a performance radiating with vulnerability and humanity with a closing scene that lingers in one's heart long after having viewed it.

The music from Neil Myers is almost reminiscent of 80's television medical dramas and, yeah, I definitely mean that as a compliment. D.P. Ruaraid Achilleos-Sarll's lensing captures both the institutional flavor of the health setting and uncomfortable intimacy that exists in such a setting.

Symptoms is a bit unusual of a film, perhaps, in that it seemingly starts off almost timidly. Yet, the timidity is deceptive. We're unsure of what exactly is unfolding and Sam, god love 'em, doesn't exactly project a Marcus Welby kind of feeling.

Then, eveyrthing unfolds and everything changes.

I like films that toss my expectations to the side and say "Follow me here!"

That's exactly what Symptoms does and it does so quite effectively. While the story doesn't go quite exactly where we expect, it's a deeply meaningful and authentic evolution that works for the story and works for these characters.

If you're in the area of Leeds, make time to check out Symptoms.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic