Riz Ahmed Gets Oscar Nomination for Short Film ‘The Long Goodbye’ He Co-wrote, Produced, and Stars In
- His documentary “Flee,” which the British Pakistani actor, rapper executive produced, also became the first movie to be nominated for Best Documentary, International Feature, and Animated Feature in the same year.
Last year, Riz Ahmed made history by becoming the first Muslim to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for “Sound of Metal.” This year, the British Pakistani actor, rapper, and activist is back on the nominations list for the coveted award. But Ahmed’s second Academy Award nod is not for acting. He’s in the running for Best Live Action Short for “The Long Goodbye,” which he co-wrote, produced, and stars in. He’s nominated alongside the film’s director/co-writer Aneil Karia. Another of his projects, the Danish animated film “Flee,” which he executive produced, became the first movie to be nominated for Best Documentary, International Feature, and Animated Feature in the same year.
After the nominations were announced on Feb. 8, Ahmed took to Instagram to thanks the Academy for the nominations. “It’s an amazing feeling to be here just one year into creating Left Handed Films,” he wrote. “These are two deeply personal and urgent stories that are totally unique in their creative execution, and so close to our hearts. That’s the kind of work we want to make.”
Calling “The Long Goodbye” one of “the most intense and important stories” he’s been a part of, Ahmed gave a shout out to to Karia’s “bold vision” and the “tirelessly dedicated cast and crew.” As regards “Flee,” Ahmed called it “both a technically and emotionally towering feat of filmmaking,” which “defies categorization.” He said he is privileged “to be part of these projects that, along with many others this year, stretch culture in powerful ways.”
In “The Long Goodbye,” Ahmed plays Riz, whose British-Pakistani family encounters far-right marchers with terrible consequences. 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.”
“Flee,” described as a hybrid film, 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.
However, this isn’t the first time Ahmed has worked behind the camera. He was also a co-writer and producer of the feature film “Mogul Mowgli.”
Ahmed 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.
In June last year, Ahmed launched a Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion, a multi-layered initiative for Muslim representation in media, in partnership with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the Ford Foundation and Pillars Fund. The aim is to provide film industry professionals with guidance on how to support Muslim stories and storytellers. According to its website, the Blueprint includes short, medium, and long-term solutions for change, concrete recommendations for everyone from production companies to drama schools, and a suite of practical resources and contacts to support everything from script screening to casting.