South Asian filmmaking talent and Afghanistan story all feature in final nominations…
A FILM made in two days just before Christmas in the fading light of a wintry London and lasting just 11 minutes is on the verge of being handed an Oscar.
It was announced today (February 8) that ‘The Long Goodbye’- the film made by Riz Ahmed, who stars in this film, and director Aneil Karia – has been nominated in the Live Action Short section of the Oscars.
Available on Youtube, the film depicts a joyous and happy time for an Asian family just before a family wedding and the cheerful atmosphere being totally destroyed by masked intruders. It is, as Ahmed told www.asianculturevulture.com in December, the depiction of a dystopian and extreme nightmare scenario.
Along with Karia, the two set about making a film that came from the heart and articulated a sense of unease and discomfort they had both been feeling for a while.
Ahmed dubbed it a ‘wake-up’ call about a fear ordinary people of colour may feel about the land of their birth and current residence. He also praised the Academy voters for recognising the immense talent of director Karia, when he responded to us in a comment about reaching the longlist (the first shortlist) just before Christmas. (See link below).
Speaking to acv separately and after the intimate big screen showing and Q&A hosted by Mark Kermode, at the W Hotel in London, in early December, Karia talked at length about the making of ‘The Long Goodbye’ and said they had to shoot the film very quickly and efficiently because there was only about six hours of light on the two days they had to film – and they did not want to use a lot of equipment, or people, to capture the final bruising, emotional soliloquy delivered by Ahmed.
Just after the announcement that the film had reached the final longlist before today’s shortlist announcement, Karia had told acv that this film came from “a personal and urgent place”.
There was further personal cheer for Ahmed as ‘Flee’ – which he executively produced through his film company, Left Handed Films, got three Oscar nominations in total.
The film about an Afghan refugee and told through animation in the form of an interview with the main character narrating, was shortlisted in the International Feature Film Documentary Feature and Animation category.
Ahmed reacted on Twitter today saying the film, “was one of the most intense and important stories I have been a part of telling. Its power is down to the bold vision of our brilliant director, Aneil Karia, and our tirelessly dedicated cast and crew.”
Later he added: “On behalf of myself and Left Handed Films, thank you to the Academy for recognising ‘The Long Goodbye’ for Best Live Action Short film, and honouring ‘Flee’ with a historic 3 nominations for Best Animation, Best Doc, and Best Intl Feature!”
‘The Long Goodbye’ qualified for this year’s Oscars having screened and won a couple of prestigious short film festival awards in the US late last year, while ‘Flee’ was originally meant to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2020 but after that was cancelled due to the pandemic, it first screened at the Sundance Film Festival in the US in 2021, digitally.
Vying for the Oscar in the same Documentary Feature section as ‘Flee’ is ‘Writing with Fire’ – which is all about a Dalit (low caste) all women media collective in India. It is made by first-time documentary makers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh. ACV also saw this remarkable film about Khabar Lahariya – which has become one of the most avidly followed new digital media presences in India in recent times , at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021, digitally.
Also emerging into the Oscars’ sunlight is ‘Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom’ from the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
Pawo Chonyning Dorji’s film follows the fate of a young teacher who is sent to a remote village school and has to contend with the gift of a Yak. The nomination represents a historic first for Bhutan.
Dorji thanked the Academy and the voters and told his 20K followers on Instagram: “The improbable journey of this little film from the glaciers of the Himalayas to the Oscars is a celebration of all the possibilities in art and creativity.
“We hope our film, displaying very simple and essential human values from one of the most remote places in the world, will continue to touch peoples’ hearts, especially during these difficult times.”
The film about tennis prodigies the Williams Sisters, Venus and Serena, and starring Will Smith, as their father in ‘King Richard’, has four nominations with Smith featuring in the Best Actor section. ACV saw it at London Film Festival and attended a special virtual press conference for film journalists just before its release late last year (See link below).
Director Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ leads this year’s nominations with 12 in all; ‘Dune’ by Denis Villeneuve has 10, Steven Spielberg has seven, as does Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’. In the acting categories, Olivia Colman (‘The Lost Daughter’), Benedict Cumberbatch (‘The Power of the Dog’) and Andrew Garfield (in Lin Manuel Miranda’s ‘Tick Tock…Boom!’) all have nominations in the lead acting categories. Dame Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds have nods in the supporting role categories. Both feature in ‘Belfast’.
Today’s shortlist announcement was made during a live Youtube broadcast with comperes Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan, both actors, doing the honours for the 94th Academy Awards which will be held in Los Angeles on March 27.
The Long Goodbye
Flee & Writing with Fire
Riz Ahmed Twitter
Pawo Chonyning Dorji
The full list