OSCAR drops Nigeria’s Lionheart, Genevieve, Others react

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Nigeria’s “Lionheart” which was directed by Genevieve Nnaji has been disqualified from the Best International Feature Film category of the Oscar Awards by the ‘Academy’.

The disqualification of “Lionheart” was announced to voters in the category by the academy in an email on Monday thereby dropping the number of films competing for the award to 92 from a record of 93 entries it earlier had. The film which is Nigeria’s first ever submission in the Best International Feature Film category was largely in English setting it against the category’s criterion for predominantly non-English dialogue, hence its disqualification.

“Lionheart” is the first Nigerian film to ever make it to the Oscars and its disqualification has generated diverse reactions and several film enthusiasts took to different social media platforms 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.”

READ ALSO: Oscars 2020: Nigeria’s Lionheart competes with more than 90 countries for Best International Feature Film

@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.”

In reaction to the disqualification, Los Angelis Times  also posted on twitter that English is the official language of many African countries….

Aside “LionHeart”, 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.

“Lionheart” is a movie that sees a woman looking to prove her worth by stepping up to the challenge to work with her crude and eccentric brother when her father, Chief Ernest Obiagu is forced to take a step back due to health issues. The movie was released on December 21, 2018 and distributed by Netflix and MPM Premium.

Juliet Ekwebelam

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