By Katia Shannon | Drama
A woman with diabetes fights for survival as her blood sugar drops amid a traffic jam.

Amanda is at an intersection in her life. She’s about to move in with her boyfriend and embark on a new stage in life, full of hope and optimism.

But as she transports the last of her belongings in the car, she gets stuck in traffic on the highway — just as her blood sugar drops to dangerous levels as a result of her diabetes. As she realizes she has run out of sugar in her car, her efforts to get through the gridlock become a fight for survival.

Written and directed by Katia Shannon, this powerful short drama offers a window into the life-and-death stakes of a common medical condition. With its visceral, sensitive storytelling, the film helps its viewers understand what it feels like to experience hypoglycemia and its resulting disorientation.

The film’s commitment to verisimilitude begins with the intimate, often handheld camerawork and low-key, natural dialogue, which has engaging immediacy and relatability. The focus is on Amanda’s emotions, beginning with her hopefulness and excitement for her new life. She could be any ordinary, likable young woman, going about her life.

But the ordinary can quickly turn scary when someone has a handicap or medical condition, and what seems like a lovely slice-of-life portrait shifts into a tenser, more suspenseful drama, building up the anxiety and stakes. Actor Victoria Diamond captures Amanda’s descent into danger with powerful intensity, capturing the disorientation and anxiety as she experiences a diabetic low.

As Amanda attempts to navigate an increasingly worrying situation, the tension escalates to thriller-like levels, barreling towards a gripping climax all the more engaging for our emotional investment in Amanda, and for watching a seemingly common condition turn potentially deadly.

Beyond the suspense and power of its storytelling, what’s powerful about “Standstill” is how it situates diabetes as an invisible condition. Over 34 million people in the U.S. alone have diabetes, according to the CDC. There is no stereotype of diabetes, and even those who look supposedly healthy, fit or young can have it. And its invisibility can prove perilous if the unthinkable happens and bystanders have no idea what is happening. Like many of the best stories, the film puts us in the footsteps of this common condition and illuminates, moment by moment, just how dizzying, scary and frightening it can be when it takes a dangerous turn.

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