Nigeria’s Oscars 2020 film submission, ‘Lionheart’ has been disqualified for ‘too much English’.
Nigerian film director and actress Genevieve Nnaji has protested against the disqualification of her film, Lionheart, from Oscar’s Best International Feature Film category.
The Academy dropped the Nigerian comedy “for having too much dialogue in English”, which violates its rule that requires entries in the international category to have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
Lionheart, which is Nigeria’s first-ever submission to the Oscar, is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo language. The film has earned strong reviews and is currently streaming on Netflix.
Its disqualification was announced to voters in an email on Monday (04.11.19), according to the BBC. It was one of the unprecedented 29 films out of 93 originally submitted this year that were directed by women.
The Director Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the film, protested against the disqualification on Twitter saying the film “represents the way we speak as Nigerians.” She added that; “This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country. We did not choose who colonised us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”
1/1 1/2 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 https://t.co/LMfWDDNV3e
— Genevieve Nnaji MFR (@GenevieveNnaji1) November 4, 2019
Top Hollywood director Ava DuVernay tweeted in support of Lionheart asking if the disqualification meant “barring” Nigeria from ever competing for an Oscar.
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? https://t.co/X3EGb01tPF
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 4, 2019
English is the official language of most African countries that were colonised by Britain.
As reported by The Sauce in October, Lionheart was among the top Oscars 2020 submissions. Others included Kenya’s ‘Subira’ and Uganda’s Kony, Order From Above. Subira is Kenya’s 4th entry and is aiming to be the country’s first Oscar nomination. The film is based on the 2007 award-winning short film of the same name, which tells the story of a young girl who is determined to swim in the ocean despite her strict social environment.