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Nigeria’s First-Ever Oscar Submission ‘Lionheart’ Gets Disqualified, But There Still May Be Hope

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 photo lionheart1.jpg

The Oscars are on one! Nigeria's first-ever Oscar submission was disqualified for an English script, even though the country's official language is English.

However, there still may be hope. More inside...

Lionheart is Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission. The film was looking to compete in the Best International Feature Film category. However, the powers that be pumped the breaks on that.

Get this, it was disqualified because the film is largely in English with only an 11-minute section in the Igbo language. Apparently, the film violated the rule in the International category to have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track." Per the rules, films in the category must be produced outside the United States. In April, the Academy changed the name of the foreign film award to international feature film.

Here's the controversy: English is the official language of Nigeria. So, technically, a Nigerian film couldn't have much of its own official language in its movie in order to qualify for this category.  And folks find this problematic.

Lionheart director and actor Genevieve Nnaji, pictured atop, hopped on Twitter to address her film’s disqualification, responding to fab directress Ava DuVernay calling out the Oscars for the unfair treatment.

The "When They See Us" directress hopped on Twitter to blast the Academy Awards for the BS:

 

 

"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?," Ava tweeted.

Genevieve Nnaji then addressed the issue:

 

 

"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," she tweeted.

 

 

"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," she tweeted.

Lionheart - Nigeria's first Netflix original film - is about a Nigerian woman named Adaeze, portrayed by Genevieve Nnaji, trying to keep her family's transportation business together. By the way, Lionheart was 1 of 29 films out of 93 originally submitted this year that were directed by women. Woot!

The good news is just because Lionheart is ineligible for the international film category does not prevent it from being considered for other Oscar categories, including Best Picture.  However, it's unclear if they meet the requirements to submit in other categories.

According to the Academy Awards website, all Oscars Submission Forms (General Entry) and accompanying full screen credits must be submitted to the Academy by Friday, November 15, 2019.

Photo: Getty

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