Hamad Al-Sarraf and Waleed Shalan
Hamad Al-Sarraf and Waleed Shalan

Viktor is a short film about a writer, Viktor, who knocks on all doors available in front of him, living in a spiral of thinking about what he wants to accomplish in his life, but eventually reaches a dead end. Then he imaginatively spends moments with a wise man named Raj, behind the gate of time where time has no value, and helps Viktor through his journey of finding the self. “The film indirectly addresses everyone exposed to such a dilemma in his life, which I see is a turning point that takes us to the right path,” director and writer Hamad Al-Sarraf said, explaining the backstory of the film to Kuwait Times.

Self-knowledge Director Sarraf said that in his research, he found many historical figures who had spoken about self-knowledge – philosophers, religious leaders and presidents. Sarraf opted to adopt the argument of Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib: “He who won self-knowledge has won the greatest victory,” because, for him, that represents him as an Arab Muslim. “This does not signify the film is religious at all, but note that the chosen argument came after the writing idea,” he said. The short film is written in English in order to achieve greater popularity and in being true to the idea of the film, Sarraf said that he was keen to abstract the costumes and set of their temporal and spatial identity.

The film’s cast was picked out in various ways. The roles of the twin brothers, Joseph and Viktor, were written for the Kuwaiti actor Hamad Ashkanani. On the other hand, Director Sarraf faced a series of apologies for the role of Sophia, which had to be taken on by the key makeup artist, Sabeeka Al-Rashed. On the other hand, the role of Raj, the second central character in the film, has a different story.

Waleed Shaalan who played Raj said that it all began after meeting Director Sarraf in an art gallery and told him, as a joke, to pick him as an extra. “Then, I was surprised when I found out he was calling for casting. And it was very serious that I had to pass an audition like in the XFactor!” Shaalan exclaimed. Waleed Shaalan is an architect who has been living in Kuwait since 1998 and has done many architectural achievements locally and internationally.

He also possesses a proven voluntary work record and has been training engineering students until present time. “What draws me to engineering is similar to what attracts me to cinema,” Shaalan said pointing at his acting experience. “Architecture is a very broad profession, it’s movement and space; it’s modulation of solid and void to create drama through lighting to create an experience. Movies also are doing that and movies also capture those experiences,” he said. Although it is the first acting experience for Shaalan, it’s his second in movie making. After working for six years in Chicago, Shaalan took his motorcycle and travelled to Guatemala, and then by luck, he stumbled upon a film crew in a filming location and ended up being the assistant art director. “Acting, on the contrary, is a fresh experience for me. But since in architecture I have to present to clients and speak with students, so communication became an indispensable part of my work. I don’t have proper training in acting and working with Hamad Al-Sarraf made it easy,” he said.

The filming of Viktor was done at 3ain International Media and produced by SPY Fund. The music recording was made by Soho Sonic Studio at Waves Studio, UK. The short film is available online on vimeo.com and has reached over two thousand views within three days of its release. At the end of the interview, Director Sarraf told Kuwait Times that he is now working on a full feature movie, where Shaalan will be taking a role in the film.

By Athoob Al-Shuaibi