Riz Ahmed brings personal fears to screen in ‘The Long Goodbye’

FILE PHOTO: 93rd Academy Awards
FILE PHOTO: Riz Ahmed arrives at the Oscars red carpet for the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 25, 2021. Chris Pizzello/Pool via REUTERS

January 31, 2022

By Chiara Rodriquez

LONDON (Reuters) – British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed and director Aneil Karia take viewers on a disturbing dystopian journey in their short film “The Long Goodbye”, inspired by personal fears about rising intolerance and discrimination in the world.

Set in suburban Britain, the film follows a south Asian family as its members prepare for a wedding. Their world is turned upside down when a group of white armed men violently bursts into their home.

“I understand that for a lot of people, they can watch a film like this and say: ‘…you’re trying to make a political statement’, but I think it’s really a position of privilege to be able to look at someone like this and say: ‘Oh, that’s political. That’s something that just lives in the headlines,” Ahmed told Reuters in an interview.

“For many of us, this is very personal. Smaller versions of this really impinge on daily lives … The bigger nightmare that this film portrays is one that really keeps us up at night.”

The 12-minute film shares it name with the 2020 album by Ahmed, who was born in London to Pakistani parents. The record also addresses racism.

“The larger concept of the film is … something that plays on our minds and I think plays on the minds of millions of people around the world who may feel like they are in danger in the context of the rising tide of intolerance we’re seeing around the world,” he said.

Karia said he and Ahmed, the first Muslim to get a best actor Oscar nomination, embarked on the project after some heartfelt talks.

“We began a series of conversations about how we felt in that particular moment in life and what it was that was charging us both creatively and as human beings,” he said.

“And through two or three kind of long conversations, we began to find this idea and start owning it.”

“The Long Goodbye” was named in the Oscar shortlist for the best live action short film category. Official nominations will be announced on Feb 8.

(Reporting by Chiara Rodriquez; writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Philippa Fletcher)