Backstage Interview: SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Backstage Interview: SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

INTERVIEW WITH: Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed


Download Video

          Q.    Congratulations.  I'm over here.

          A.    Thank you.


          Q.    Congratulations.  How are you feeling right now?  You just won

                an Academy award.

          A.    (Aneil Karia)  Yeah, we did.  Yeah.  It feels really quite odd.

                I think I'm still processing it.  Yeah, it's unbelievable

                really.  It's, you know, we were saying that, uhm, if you could

                have seen a five-minute snapshot of our shoot, the kind of

                chaotic, low-flying nature of, you know, of it all, on the cold

                streets of Leatherhead, quite underwhelming town in England,

                you can understand why it was a leap to imagine ourselves here

                today.  So, yeah, it's a mad one.  It feels good in conclusion.


          Q.    Riz and Aniel, congratulations on your win.  How important is

                it to tell immigrant stories that, you know, us, South Asians,

                not only are we getting a platform, there's more visibility,

                and how important is it to tell these immigrant stories that,

                you know, they are different from other immigrant stories.  We

                have our own struggles?  So, personally, how important -- what

                drives you to tell these stories?

          A.    (Riz Ahmed)  I think it's really important to tell all kinds of

                stories, stories about joy, stories about suffering, and about

                all types of people.  That's really the point of what we are

                doing here as storytellers.  You know, a story is a place where

                you can imagine yourself into someone else's experience, and by

                doing that it increases your empathy.  It opens your heart and

                your mind, and it broadens your horizons about who you can

                relate to and how we are all the same.  So, of course, in a

                time when lots of migrants, refugees, and immigrants are being

                so, kind of, dehumanized, I think it's really important to tell

                stories that change that.  And what we've tried to do with our

                film is, yeah, show the challenges, the dangers of where we

                might be headed, but it's also to celebrate the joy and the

                community of the immigrant family at the heart of this story.

                So we will continue telling stories that complicate and elevate

                our experience on screen so people can really empathize.


          Q.    Hi, I loved your film so much and voted for it and all kinds of

                different things.  Congratulations to you.  And we know Riz

                from, you know, acting.  And you've leapt ahead and got the

                Oscar, which we thought you would get eventually anyway.  What

                do you think about how the movie has been embraced?

          A.    (Aneil Karia) Yeah, it has kind of blown our minds.  Really,

                really, like I say, we made it from a really personal place.

                It was an exercise in not being kind of strategic about how you

                develop an idea.  It was exercise about looking inward and kind

                of -- and kind of, I guess, like, wrenching out what's deep

                inside them, what you feel like you need to make rather than

                what you think you should be making.  And it was -- it was an

                incredible experience, cathartic, and liberating to do that.

                Challenging in its own ways, but none of us expected the

                reaction it got.  The way it touched the, kind of, the South

                Asian community was really moving, and then it went on to win

                these kinds of accolades and awards.  It's just something we

                never expected and to end up here is insane, to be honest.


          Q.    Hi, guys.  Congratulations.  I'm from Poland, so, actually, I

                would love to ask you if you have seen the other nominees in

                your category, and if yes, I would love to hear your opinion

                about the Polish --

          A.    (Aneil Karia) Yeah.  I mean, it's a complete honor to be

                amongst the other four films.  They're beautiful, eclectic

                films.  I thought THE DRESS was really genuinely stunning

                filmmaking, naturalistic, and kind of beautiful.  At the same

                time, really kind of personal and intimate, the exact kind of

                filmmaking I, you know, aspire to in many ways with an

                unbelievable performance at the center of it.  Yeah, I thought

                it was fantastic.



          Q.    Hi, congratulations.  I'm not sure if you were able to catch

                the edited version of your acceptance speech.  But, Riz, they

                only featured you in that, and so I just wanted both of your

                thoughts on that.

          A.    (Aneil Karia)  Well, I mean, Riz does speak beautifully, and

                that's one of the reasons -- one of the many reasons I've

                enjoyed working with him so much.  He's able to articulate

                really complicated and abstract and challenging kind of

                emotions and feelings into such beautiful kind of pros or

                poetry or words.  I find that amazing.  You know, my -- I guess

                my preferred medium of communication is filmmaking.  Riz is

                really tremendous at talking.  I love to listen to him, and

                they were beautiful words he said.  So, you know, so why not

                choose those words?  So, yeah, it certainly doesn't take away

                from anything from this experience with -- this is the

                culmination of an unbelievable ride and, actually, also the

                beginning of a real friendship, and, you know, hopefully a long

                working relationship.  So, yeah, it's a big win basically.


          Q.    Well, this is awkward.  That last question was actually what I

                wanted to ask, but I just didn't want to give up my question

                because I wanted to say a huge congratulations.  I'm so excited

                and thrilled for you.

          A.    (Aneil Karia)   Thanks.  Good seat.


          Q.    Congratulations on the beautiful, timely film, which I really

                hope our government from the UK gets to watch and learn from.

                Could you tell us, obviously, why was short film the best art

                form to combine your craft, Riz; and then with your filmmaking

                skill, Aneil?

                        Why was short film, basically, the best format to tell

                that story and combine the different art form that you were


          A.    (Aneil Karia) Yeah.  I grew up watching a mixture of

                everything; television, commercials, music videos, films.  They

                kind of all -- I've marveled at all of those mediums in

                different ways.  I mean, it's another story, but they felt far

                too abstract and far away for me to ever contemplate doing that

                as a career.  But I think this -- this kind of medium that we

                use, short film -- yeah, it's a good question.  I'm not

                quite -- you know, why was it perfect for it?  I think it -- I

                don't -- I'm not answering this very well.  You go.

          A.    (Riz Ahmed)  We didn't have enough money for a feature, all

                right?  We didn't.  This was all the money we had and that's

                why we made it this short.


          Q.    Hi.  Just congratulations on your win, and I just wanted to --

                you know, you just addressed how you felt your speech was

                delivered on air.  I'm just wondering what your feelings are in

                general about the category being announced not during the


          A.    (Riz Ahmed)  I mean, obviously, ideally, everyone's speech, all

                of the categories get an equal number of air time, and, you

                know, there's no feeling that there's a hierarchy of awards.

                There's a lot that's being said about that.  I mean, I agree

                with that -- that point of view myself personally.  But, for

                me, what is important is that that doesn't become the story.

                And the -- ultimately, we are here to celebrate filmmakers,

                like Aniel, and the film that they have made.

                And it would be kind of weird if, you know, the story became,

                oh, how come we didn't get to celebrate these filmmakers

                enough?  By making it a story we are actually adding to the

                problem.  So I think the focus here is the amazing film that

                Aniel has made.  The amazing craft that's gone into all of

                these categories, and, yeah, this wonderful gift from our

                creative community in, you know, taking these statues on.

Acceptance speech transcripts for the 94th Academy Awards are created by a team of transcribers in real time and with minimal editing, for the benefit of the press on the night. They may contain omissions and errors, especially in the spelling of names. Clips of winner acceptance speeches may be found on

These transcripts may not be reproduced except as brief quotes used in conjunction with news reporting about the 94th Academy Awards®. All content Copyright 2022 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Oscar®," "Oscars®," "Academy Awards®," "Academy Award®," "A.M.P.A.S.®" and "Oscar Night®" are the trademarks, and the ©Oscar® statuette is the registered design mark and copyrighted property, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Additional information regarding the "Terms & Conditions of Use" and "Legal Regulations for Using Intellectual Properties of the Academy" may be accessed online at

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Communications Department
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
Phone (310) 247-3090
FAX (310) 271-3395