First-ever Nigeria’s entry for the international feature film Oscar category was disqualified by the Awards Academy because it contained too much English dialogue.
According to TheWrap, The Academy announced the disqualification of “Lionheart” to voters in the category in an email on Monday.
The movie scheduled to screen for voters as one of the entries under the international film feature category on Wednesday did not meet with the Academy’s 13th rule as the movies are expected to be predominantly non-English dialogue track.
“Lionheart” which premiered in Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2018, has only 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language-native to Southeastern Nigeria, while the rest of the 94-minute pictures is in English.
The comedy directed by Genevieve Nnaji, and co-wrote by Chinny Onwugbenu and featured top Nigerian veteran actors- Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh and Onyeka Onwenu including some celebrated Nigerian musicians showed Nnaji playing the role of a woman who tries to keep her father’s struggling company afloat in a male-dominated environment
The decision of the academy to disqualify the film has been criticised by the Nnaji, Nigerians and fellow actors on Twitter. She called out the Oscar committee on its decision stating that the rejection based on language violated the recognition of English as Nigeria’s Official language.
“This movie represents the way we speak like Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us #OneNigeria.” She added, “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.”
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
Other Twitter users have also said that the disqualification of the film is one of the recent negative impacts of colonialism in Africa.
Since #lionheart is disqualified because it’s predominantly in English and they accept that Nigeria’s official language is English then we shouldn’t be taking any of these IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC, etc.
— willγ̥v™ #Obidatti (@iamWillyv) November 5, 2019
The global streaming giant Netflix had acquired the film for worldwide distribution at an undisclosed price.
Forerunners in the category include South Korea’s “Parasite,” Spain’s “Pain and Glory” and France’s “Les Miserables.”
Although it has been disqualified from its category, the film is not excluded from entering other Oscar categories, including consideration for the best picture.
The rejection of “Lionheart” dropped the number of films competing for the award to 92 from what had been a record 93 entries.