The Oscars Award Academy has disqualified Nigeria’s ‘Lionheart’ from the Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Academy dropped the Genevieve Nnaji directorial debut, for having too much English dialogue.
The Academy’s criteria for best international feature film category states that it awards film’s made outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue.
This drop by the Oscars has reduced the number of films competing for the award to 92 from what had been a record 93 entries.
The disqualification also drops the number of female directors in this year’s race to 28, which is still a category record.
NAN reports that it was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Nigeria.
‘Lionheart’, in which Nnaji also stars, is partially in Igbo language. But it is mostly in English, which seemed to violate the category’s criterion.
The film had not been vetted by the Academy’s International Feature Film Award Executive Committee in advance of the Oct. 7 announcement of qualifying films.
It was however, recently viewed and determined not to qualify in a category that until this year was known as Best Foreign Language Film.
One other film, Afghanistan’s ‘Hava, Maryam, Ayesha’, had been deemed ineligible before the list of qualifying films was announced.
It was denied a spot on the roster of contenders over questions about the legitimacy of the Afghan committee that submitted it.
The Academy announced the disqualification of ‘Lionheart’ to voters in the category in an email on Monday.
The film was scheduled to screen for Academy voters in the international category on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, ‘Blood, Passion, and Coffee’.
‘Lionheart’, in which Nnaji plays a woman who tries to keep her father’s struggling company afloat in a male-dominated environment, is currently available on Netflix.
However, following the announcement of the disqualification, several film ethusaists went on social media to share their thoughts, including award-winning director, Ava DuVernay.
DuVernay, who empathised with Nigeria wrote, “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?”
Responding to DuVernay, Genevieve Nnaji, who directed ‘Lion Heart’ said, “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.”
@Comemare said, “This category is for films that are in predominantly other languages, not English. Since your film is mostly in English.
“It can compete in all the other major categories, along with other english language films from Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK, etc. No one excluded your film.”
@Samirasawlani said, “Lionheart was today disqualified from the Oscar’s Best Intl Film.. because.. it is mostly in English.
“Nigeria was colonised by the Brits. English is an official language in the Country. You really cant win with this lot. Quite literally cannot win.”
@TravRicardson wrote, “I definitely feel you, this category was just changed from Best Foreign Language Film to the very vague Best International Feature Film. Seems like they are going to the foreign language requirement.
“I guess they don’t take into account countries that speak English. It’s dumb!”
@Royalmusings said, “The category is for non English language movies.Canada has had French language films nominated. Had the movie been in Hausa or Yoruba. It would have been accepted.”
NAN reports that ‘Lionheart’, in which Nnaji plays a woman who tries to keep her father’s struggling company afloat in a male-dominated environment, is currently available on Netflix.