The Academy has chosen to pull Nigeria’s first ever Oscar Submission from the 2020 Oscar award race for international film.
What We Know:
- The category recently underwent a name change from “Best Foreign Language Film” to “Best International Film”.
- The Academy disqualified Lionheart, Netflix’s first original film from Nigeria, under the rule that best international film entries must boast “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”. Unfortunately, English is a common language spoken in Nigeria. It should be noted that in addition to English, the Nigerian language Igbo is also spoken throughout Lionheart.
- A complete list of the special rules for the international feature film award are listed here.
- On November 4, Ava DuVernay took to Twitter to directly address the Academy for disqualifying Nigeria’s first ever submission due to them speaking in their official language, which is English.
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
- Lionheart, which was produced by Genevieve Nnaji, follows Adaeze (Nnaji), a whip-smart businesswoman who is desperately trying to save her father’s transport company in the wake of his illness and her fraught relationship with her uncle. It hits on social constructs such as family, class, sexism and politics. See the full trailer below:
- According to The Guardian, “The takeaway message from the Oscars is that Africans from parts of the continent that were colonised by Britain must perform in an African language – regardless of how they speak naturally – in order to placate American ideas about what authentic African-ness is.”
- In response to DuVernay confronting the Academy and taking up for the film, Nnaji had this to say on Twitter:
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
- 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.”
As Netflix continues to gain traction, the idea that the film was acquired by Netflix is under speculation. NBC News reports that Hollywood is doing everything in their power to keep the streaming giants at bay.