Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee reacts as Lionheart is disqualified from Oscars race
On Monday, November 4, 2019, Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut movie, Lionheart, was disqualified from the Oscars race. The reason given for the disqualification is that the movie was predominantly in English. The news has been met with mixed reactions as American filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, and the film director, Genevieve Nnaji, have shared their opinion on it. According to Ava, English is Nigeria’s predominant language as she wondered if this means they have barred the country from competing for an Oscar in its official language.
In a statement released by the Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee, (NOSC), they responded to the disqualification of the country’s first submission to the Academy Awards. Speaking on the development, NOSC chairperson, Chineze Anyaene said Nigeria is faced with making movies for a wide reach of people which is why the movies are predominantly made in English. “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”, she said. She also added that the committee will now submit movies which are predominantly done in a foreign language and also urged filmmakers to take note. To make the step easier, Anyaene explained that workshops and seminars will be organised to create awareness on the Academy Awards requirements regarding the International Feature Film category. “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”, Anyaene added. The chairperson also revealed that Lionheart had met all the other requirements for the nomination except the language. This is definitely an eye opener.