Aneil Karia (‘The Long Goodbye’ director): ‘Horrific political circumstances aren’t so far away’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“We wanted it to be an experience that was felt,” admits “The Long Goodbye” director and co-writer Aneil Karia. For our recent webchat he continues, “I don’t think there’s any kind of finger-wagging agenda.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

The short film centers on Riz (Riz Ahmed) and his family in the middle of preparing a wedding when world events arrive suddenly on their doorstep. The film, which is also co-written by Ahmed, mixes comedy, tragedy and poetry to convey the devastation that a culture of intolerance can lead to.

Karia reflects, “These horrific political circumstances aren’t so far away. It’s a distillation of the darkest fears and anxieties that are living in the minds of immigrants and second generation immigrants, when they start to feel unwelcome in their own country. We made this at a time where there was a particularly toxic dialogue, or rhetoric, around race relations and politics. It was a personal response to how that feels sometimes.”

The project concludes with a soliloquy performed by Ahmed. The director explains, “These tonal shifts were really getting us buzzed up about making this film. Riz had already written this monologue. I thought that needs to be the full stop to this film. We shift from this very unpleasant scene into a kind of poetic space. I think there’s a lot of messy rage and confusion and sadness going on that you sometimes can’t clearly harness or articulate. It’s kind of chaotic. That monologue from Riz distills that into this beautiful, articulate and controlled response to what we’ve just seen. There is a kind of defiance and beauty. It almost takes back agency and re-frames it.”

The film has made the Oscar shortlist in the Best Live Action Short Film category. Karia reveals, “When you make something from the heart and soul, it always yields better results. Riz and I sat down having not really known each other, just two people having conversations about how they felt in that moment, what their hopes and fears were. It came from a personal place. There wasn’t any kind of intellectualizing; it just came from the heart. I’m learning, more and more, that those are always the stronger films.”

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