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The Independent Critic

Abdolrahman Sarraei, Mojo Mona
Abdolrahman Sarraei
11 Mins.

 Movie Review: Visualization 
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Experimental yet also autobiographical, Abdolrahman Sarraei's award-winning 11-minute short film has an aura of truth in this visually compelling story that unfolds between Sarraei himself along with the intriguing Mojo Mona as a psychiatrist and performer. 

The story unfolds in what appears to be a medical clinic of some sort, an institution really, with a long pan down a corridor creating an immediate sense of isolation and "otherness." Background music composed by Jazzephin adds to the unsettling nature of the scenario and everything that unfolds. The film's color palette is muted and one gets the sense that just about everything within these people and this setting is muted. To know Sarraei's story is to understand where he's coming from - an Iranian/Kurdish actor, screenwriter, director, producer, and President of Kurdistan International Independent Film Festival, Sarraei has been exiled from Iran since 2019 due to his political activities which have been deemed by Iranian officials as "collaborating in counter-revolutionary propaganda." Unable to return, it would appear that Sarraei is channeling his experiences into filmmaking that transcends the spoken language with a powerful production design by Mona herself and outstanding production work across the board. Both Sarraei and Mona seem to have had a strong presence throughout every aspect of the film's production. 

As Tom, Sarraei appears to be restricted within this facility, a prisoner in most ways, and he needs no real dialogue to speak vividly through his acting. The same is very true for Mona, whose work here made me think often of A Clockwork Orange. Together, both are excellent. 

There are many ways to interpret Visualization, though Sarraei has openly admitted its autobiographical elements. This appears to be especially true emotionally and watching his transformation over the course of the film's eleven minutes is rather mesmerizing. There is, however, a tremendous depth here that speaks both intimately and universally. Sarraei is telling his own story yet also seems very aware that many others have similar stories to tell. 

One of the most unique films to cross my desk so far in 2023, Visualization has picked up 18 prizes along its festival journey so far and will complete a theatrical week-long run in The Academy (Oscar) qualifying metro area in 2023. Best for moviegoers who appreciate the more thoughtful, experimental side of indie cinema, Visualization is the kind of short film that will have you thinking about it for days after you watch it. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic