Emmy Award winning actor, Riz Ahmed last week released a new short film called The Long Goodbye to accompany his album of the same name.
The deeply affecting film explores the end of Ahmed’s “toxic, abusive relationship” with Britain. Depicting a family in the midst of getting ready for a wedding, the film captures the reality of racism experienced by Muslims in the west.
The preparations for the celebration are interrupted by what at first appears to be a police immigration raid. But as the wedding house is thrown into chaos, it becomes obvious that Ahmed and film director, Aneil Karia have gone one step further. The shocking turn of events seen in the film seem intended to make the viewer ask, “What if?”
Ahmed himself confirmed that he created the film to “ask questions of the audience”. And it certainly seems to have struck a nerve with viewers. Many took to Twitter to share their reactions. Conservative British politician, Sayeeda Warsi encouraged her followers to watch the film calling it, “Hard hitting, deeply uncomfortable, but an essential wake up call for everybody”.
Another commentator said, “it’s like what our grandparents and parents warned us about and we thought they were exaggerating...it’s a real concern”. One also recognised the questions Ahmed was asking with the film saying, “he has asked an important question with this production - what will our answer be?”
While the film has prompted a huge reaction, the accompanying album also packs a punch. Turning the breakup album on its head, Ahmed labelled The Long Goodbye a “break-up love letter” written about his relationship with Britain. The opening track, The Breakup (Shikwa) leads with the line, Britain’s broken up with me.
The twenty-seven minute album goes on to follow the narrative of the breakup. Featuring voicemail messages from the likes of Hasan Minhaj, Mindy Kaling, Asim Chaudhry and Mahershala Ali as they coach Ahmed through the breakup, the album becomes more than just the British experience. In an interview with Vogue Britain, Ahmed said, “it’s true if you’re Muslim in India, Uyghur in China, it’s true if you’re Mexican in Queens waiting for ICE to knock down your door.”
And the lyrics have certainly resonated with listeners around the world. Quoting the lyric, So many of us feel like we’re being dumped by the place we call home, a home that we built one commentator said, “Man, the pain behind the lyrics rapped is so real.”
Many commented on lyrics from the track, Where You From which also features in the film. The track explores the experience familiar to people of colour around the world when they’re asked where they’re from.
One thanked Ahmed “for having the perfect words to describe with such profundity what racism is”. Another said, “Anyone who’s ever had some kind of racism/prejudice directed towards them as an ethnic minority in this country can 100% relate to it”.
The Long Goodbye might be a break-up letter. But Ahmed has made it clear that it’s meant to unite its audience. The day after its release Ahmed took to Twitter, “If you watched the Long Goodbye short film and it moved you, I want you to text it to 2 people who you know need waking up. And 2 people you know will get it.”
Zoe Victoria is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @Zoe__V