Nigeria’s entry for Oscar race Lionheart disqualified by Academy

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Nigeria’s entry for Oscar race Lionheart disqualified by Academy
Producer Chinny Onwugbenu, left, actor Nkem Owoh, centre, and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji, right, from the film Lionheart at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival [Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]
Producer Chinny Onwugbenu, left, actor Nkem Owoh, centre, and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji, right, from the film Lionheart at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival [Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]

The organisers of the Oscars have disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever entry for consideration in the International Feature Film category because it has too much dialogue in English, according to reports.

The disqualification of Lionheart – directed by and starring Genevieve Nnaji, one of the biggest stars in the Nigerian film industry widely known as Nollywood – was conveyed in an email to voters for the category, The Wrap reported on Monday.

According to the rules by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the 95-minute feature is in English, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The movie was scheduled to be screened to voters for the category, formerly known as best foreign language film, on Wednesday.

‘Proudly Nigerian’

Lionheart, in which Nnaji plays Adaeze, a woman who tries to keep her family’s transportation business afloat after her father suffers a heart attack, is currently streaming on Netflix.

Nnaji took to Twitter to express her disapproval of the Academy’s decision.

1/1 1/2 Thank you so much @ava❤️.

I am the director of Lionheart. This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us #OneNigeria. @TheAcademy https://t.co/LMfWDDNV3e

— Genevieve Nnaji MFR (@GenevieveNnaji1) November 4, 2019

2/2 It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian. @TheAcademy https://t.co/LMfWDDNV3e

— Genevieve Nnaji MFR (@GenevieveNnaji1) November 4, 2019

Filmmaker Ava Durnay also criticised the Academy in a Twitter post.

“You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”

To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language? https://t.co/X3EGb01tPF

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 4, 2019

Many others also took to social media to comment on the Academy’s move.

Lionheart has been disqualified from the Oscar.

Reason: A Nigerian movie should not have so much English.

Mind you, we were colonized by this same English people, English is our official language.

This right here is BS! And it’s discriminatory.

— Mazi Efam™ #SantaInIbadan (@iefamharris) November 5, 2019

On Lionheart.

It’s okay if you say you disqualified a movie because the story line isn’t good enough. Or the picture quality. Or the sound.

But why penalize because the movie is in English, the country’s official language?

Common colonizer.

— Tunde Omotoye 🇳🇬 (@TundeTASH) November 5, 2019

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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