Published: Tue, November 05, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

The Academy Disqualifies Nigeria’s Oscar Entry ‘Lionheart’

The Academy Disqualifies Nigeria’s Oscar Entry ‘Lionheart’

In October, wild reactions trailed the selection of "Lionheart" by the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee, NOSC, to represent Nollywood at the 2020 Oscars as there was varying reactions and argument as why the movie should have or not have been selected. The film is still eligible to be considered in other Oscar categories. "Foreign films where the majority of the dialogue is in English can not qualify for the award", it says in its description.

The film's director, Genevieve Nnaji, followed up with some posts of her own.

The academy's decision, which was communicated via email to Oscar voters, was first reported by The Wrap.

The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences had disqualified "Lionheart", Genevieve Nnaji's directorial debut and Nigeria's submission to the "International Feature Film" category of the Oscars, because the movie violated the requirement that entries have a "non-English recording dialogue".

The Chairman of the committee, Chineze Anyaene, in a statement on Tuesday, said Nigerian filmmakers have had concerns with regard to shooting movies "with non-English recording dialogue" because the industry is "often faced with producing films with a wide reach". "Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?" the "When They See Us" director wrote. She adds English acts as a bridge between over 500 languages spoken by Nigerians.

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She continued: "It's no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies".

According to her, the committee is working to create workshops and other training sessions to increase awareness on the guidelines for an "International Feature Film" entry.

Lionheart premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix for worldwide distribution. We did not choose who colonised us.

In Lionheart, Adaeze-the only daughter (a symbolic position in the Eastern Nigerian's family) is celebrated and entrusted with running a multi-billion Naira company and would thrive especially one usually in a male-dominated industry. "This is an eye opener and step forward into growing a better industry". Out of its 94-minute runtime, Lionheart has around 12 minutes of dialogue in Southeastern Nigeria's native language, Igbo, but the rest of the film is in English.

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