- The British Pakistani actor, musician, and activist co-wrote, produced, and stars in the 12-minute film where he plays Riz, whose British-Pakistani family encounters far-right marchers with terrible consequences.
British Pakistani actor, musician, and activist Riz Ahmed took home the Academy Award for the Best Short Film for “The Long Goodbye,” along with British Indian director Aneil Karia. Ahmed co-wrote, produced, and stars in the short film where he plays Riz, whose British-Pakistani family encounters far-right marchers with terrible consequences.
In his acceptance speech Ahmed said: “In such divided times, we believe that the role of story is to remind us there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There’s just ‘us’.” He dedicated the award to “everyone who feels like they’re stuck in No Man’s Land,” assuring them that they aren’t alone. “We’ll meet you there.”
The 12-minute film shares its name with the 2020 album by Ahmed, which was inspired, in part, by the rise of far-right political groups and anti-immigration rhetoric in the post-Brexit U.K. The film incorporates music from Ahmed’s album. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film, “which culminates in a searing monologue from Ahmed, is a terrifying look at an everyday nightmare for members of certain marginalized communities.”
In a Feb. 8 Twitter post after the Academy Award nominations were announced, Ahmed called “The Long Goodbye” one of “the most intense and important stories” he’s been a part of, Ahmed gave a shout out to Karia’s “bold vision” and the “tirelessly dedicated cast and crew.”
However, “The Long Goodbye” wasn’t the only film Ahmed was nominated for. Another of his projects, the Danish animated film “Flee,” which he executive produced, along with producer Suroosh Alvi of Vice Studios, became the first movie to be nominated for Best Documentary, International Feature, and Animated Feature in the same year. Unfortunately, “Flee,” described as a hybrid film, didn’t win in any of the categories.
It tells the real-life story of Amin, a gay Afghan refugee, through vividly animated renderings of both his past and future with a new husband. Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen from an idea he co-wrote with the film’s subject, Amin, “the film’s “presentation of entirely animated images qualified it for the Animated Feature category, while the inclusion of Amin’s actual narration of his life story makes it an official documentary as well,” Entertainment Weekly reported. Though “Flee” was co-produced with funding from Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, it qualified as an International Feature contender for only one country after Denmark submitted it to represent the nation at the Oscars, the report added.
Last year, Ahmed made history by becoming the first Muslim to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for “Sound of Metal.” He got his first break in Michael Winterbottom’s 2006 film “Road to Guantanamo,” and has subsequently started in “Nightcrawler,” “Rogue One,” “Jason Bourne,” and Venom.”
Some of his projects include “The Son of Good Fortune” at Amazon along with Lulu Wang. The two will develop and executive produce the comedy series based on the novel of the same name by Lysley Tenorio, about an undocumented Filipino teenager in the Bay area navigating a tumultuous relationship with his former B-movie action star mother, falling in love for the first time, and working out how to pay back a massive debt before his whole life crumbles.
Ahmed is also working on a film adaptation of author Mosin Hamid’s best-selling book, “Exit West,” directed by Yann Demange, which is being produced by the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground Productions, The New York Times reported earlier.
Karia began his career directing several award-winning shorts, including “Bear,” starring Ben Whishaw, and “Work,” which was nominated for a BAFTA and a BIFA. His credits include “Top Boy,” “Pure” and “Trouble.”
His debut feature film “Surge” premiered in competition at Sundance Film Festival 2020, where its lead Ben Whishaw won the World Cinema Special Jury Award for Best Acting. It had its European premiere at the Berlinale and was released theatrically in summer 2021. The film was produced by Rooks Nest for BBC Films and BFI.
He is currently in development on his next feature film, due to shoot in late 2022. In television, Karia is about to start work as director on “The Gold,” a new heist drama series for BBC One and Paramount+.