Oscar winners include Riz Ahmed, Aneil Karia, and ‘first Patel’ to win an Academy Award

Poster for short film The Long Goodbye which won the Oscar on March 27, 2022. Photo Twitter @rizwanahmed

Even though the world came away from this year’s Oscars with the image of Hollywood actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock, other memorable things happened at that vibrant, signature event March 27, 2022 – among them, South Asians making history with winning Oscars for the not-so-high profile cinema productions, and others being among the nominees.

Musician and actor Riz Ahmed, of Pakistani origin, won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film, for The Long Goodbye, and producer Aneil Karia, shared that glory for the same; and Joseph Patel, producer of Oscar-winning ‘Summer of Soul’ which won the Best Original Documentary directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia at the Oscars March 27, 2022, as they celebrate the win for The Long Goodbye. Photo: Twitter @AneilKaria

Ahmed co-wrote and acted in The Long Goodbye, and his music was the backdrop to the movie.

The Long Goodbye has won several awards already, including the BIFA Best Short Film Award, the London Critics Circle Best Short Film Award, the Grand Prix at the Hollyshorts Film Festival, according to Karia’s eponymous website aneilkaria.com.

The story is based on Ahmed’s experiences as a British-Pakistani, and addresses the alienation of immigrants, and what can sometimes be the terrible consequences of hate speech.

In his acceptance speech at the Oscars, Ahmed said, “In such divided times, we believe that the role of a story is to remind us there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. There’s just ‘us’. This is for everyone who feels like they don’t belong. Anyone who feels like they’re stuck in no man’s land. You’re not alone. We’ll meet you there. That’s where the future is. Peace.”

Last year, Ahmed was nominated as Best Actor for his performance as a drummer going deaf in Sound of Metal.

Karia is also an award-winning film-maker. His debut feature film SURGE premiered in competition at Sundance Film Festival 2020. And he is currently engaged in producing his next feature film expected to begin shooting in late 2022, his website said.

In television, Karia is about to start work as director on THE GOLD, a new heist drama series for BBC One and Paramount+. He previously directed the closing three episodes of TOP BOY for Netflix.

The short film, The Long Goodbye is about a South Asian family in the middle of a typical day at home when a far right march is playing on the television. That far right rally reaches their door and it all leads to a devastating outcome.

This January in an interview with Reuters, Ahmed said, “”You know, I understand that for a lot of people, they can watch a film like this and say: ‘Well, this is very political, 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, that something that just lives on the TV news. And you know, the documentary’. for many of us, this is very personal. You know, smaller versions of this really impinge on daily lives. And these kind of the bigger nightmare that this film portrays is one that really keeps us up at night.”

‘First Patel To Win An Oscar’

Producer Joseph Patel has a twenty-year history in film-making. Variety magazine quoted his comment upon winning the Oscar –  “Riz Ahmed earlier tonight, becamse the ninth Soyth Asian to ever win an Academy Awrd. I became the tenth … Also, this will please my moth, I’m the first Patel ever to win an Oscar.”

Joseph Patel, left, at the Oscars where Summer of Soul won an Academy Award, with QuestLove, 2nd from left. Photo: videogrb from Twitter @Variety

Patel’s Summer of Soul has had some wins already before the Oscars. It won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for US Documentary at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. And according to IMDB, it has cornered several critics and guild awards, including 6 Critics Choice Documentary Awards.

A journalist of long standing, Patel has produced and directed  television and digital content for MTV News & Docs, Vice Media, The Fader, and Vevo.

Other mentions at the Oscars

Other South Asians who appeared in the Oscars list include the Bhutanese film, Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom, directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, one of the nominees for the Best International Feature Film; “Writing With Fire” nominated in the documentary category directed by Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas.

(updated March 28, 2022)



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