Setback for Nollywood as Oscars Academy disqualifies ‘Lion Heart’

Setback for Nollywood as Oscars Academy disqualifies ‘Lion Heart’

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 8:59 am

Nnaji on the poster of Lionheart

It was a setback for Nollywood, the budding Nigeria film industry as the Oscars Award Academy  disqualified Nigeria’s ‘Lionheart’ from competition for the award of Best International Feature Film category.

‘Lionheart’, in which Nnaji plays a woman who tries to keep her father’s struggling company afloat in a male-dominated environment was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Nigeria.

The Academy’s International Feature Film Award Executive Committee had on Oct. 7 announced the film as one of those that qualified for award in the category.

The qualification of the film for the film which is currently available on Netflix was celebrated by Nigerian artistes as another global endorsement of Nollywood.

Though there are sprinklings of Igbo language spoken in the film, the dialogue is mostly in English.

After recently viewing the film, members of the Academy decided to drop the Genevieve Nnaji directorial debut, for having too much English dialogue as reported by News Agency of Nigeria.

The Academy’s criteria for best international feature film category states that it awards film’s made outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue.

The Academy announced the disqualification of ‘Lionheart’ to voters in the category in an email on Monday.

Meanwhile, diverse reactions have continued to trail the disqualification of Nigeria’s Oscars entry ‘Lion Heart’ by the award’s Academy.

Several film enthusiasts went on social media to share their thoughts, including award-winning director, Ava DuVernay.

DuVernay, who empathised with Nigeria wrote, “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?”

Responding to DuVernay, Genevieve Nnaji, who directed ‘Lion Heart’ said, “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.”

@Comemare said, “This category is for films that are in predominantly other languages, not English. Since your film is mostly in English.

“It can compete in all the other major categories, along with other english language films from Australia, Canada, Ireland, UK, etc. No one excluded your film.”

@Samirasawlani said, “Lionheart was today disqualified from the Oscar’s Best Intl Film.. because.. it is mostly in English.

“Nigeria was colonised by the Brits. English is an official language in the Country. You really cant win with this lot. Quite literally cannot win.”

@TravRicardson wrote, “I definitely feel you, this category was just changed from Best Foreign Language Film to the very vague Best International Feature Film. Seems like they are going to the foreign language requirement.

“I guess they don’t take into account countries that speak English. It’s dumb!”

@Royalmusings said, “The category is for non English language movies.Canada has had French language films nominated. Had the movie been in Hausa or Yoruba. It would have been accepted.”

NAN reports that ‘Lionheart’, in which Nnaji plays a woman who tries to keep her father’s struggling company afloat in a male-dominated environment, is currently available on Netflix.


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