Nigeria’s first film ever submitted to the Oscars has been disqualified from the race for the Best International Feature Film category.
In an email on Monday, the Academy said the Genevieve Nnaji directed movie, Lion Heart, was disqualified because it violates a rule that entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
Lionheart, in which Nnaji also stars, is partially in the Igbo language but it is mostly in English.
The decision to disqualify it has however sparked outrage, with many saying English is the official language of Nigeria and hence it shouldn’t have been disqualified.
Meanwhile Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) has today responded to the recent disqualification of the country’s submission to the 92nd Academy Awards® – Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart.
According to the Academy, nominees in its Best International Feature Film Category must have a predominantly non-English dialogue track, and ‘Lionheart’ despite being an unmistakably Nigerian film, did not tick this particular box.
The announcement has attracted concerns from movie producers across the globe, with major voices like Ava DuVernay, American filmmaker and distributor, speaking up about the disqualification on social media, shortly after the announcement.
Responding to this recent development, the NOSC Chairperson Chineze Anyaene said:
“The budding Nigerian film industry is often faced with producing films with wide reach which often makes the recording dialogue predominantly English with non-English infusions in some cases.
Going forward, the committee intends to submit films which are predominantly foreign language – non-English recording dialogue. We are therefore urging filmmakers to shoot with intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the most prestigious award.
The committee is working tirelessly in organizing workshops, seminars and using other available media to create robust awareness on the guidelines and requirements for an International Feature Film Entry.
Lionheart passed on other technical requirements from story, to sound and picture except for language as adjudged by the Academy screening matrix, which was a challenge for the committee at a time. This is an eye opener and step forward into growing a better industry.”
The Best International Feature Film category has certain requirements which must be fulfilled before a film can be submitted. Some of them are:
1. The film must have been first released in the country submitting it, after which it must have been exhibited for a minimum of 7 consecutive days in a movie theatre
2. The movie must be predominantly non-English which means that movies with predominant English dialogue will not qualify for the award
3. The film must not be transmitted electronically or otherwise, before it’s official release in the theatre
The shortlist of 10 films will be announced on Monday, December 16, 2019.
Nominations for the 92nd Oscars® will be announced on Monday, January 13, 2020.
The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.