Nigeria’s Oscar race entry Lionheart disqualified by Academy

Organisers say feature does not meet requirements for ‘predominantly non-English dialogue track’, according to reports.

Producer Chinny Onwugbenu, actor Nkem Owoh and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji from the film ''Lionheart'' pose for a portrait during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival at Intercontinental Hotel on
Producer Chinny Onwugbenu, left, actor Nkem Owoh, centre, and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji, right, from the film Lionheart at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival [Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]

The organisers of the Oscars have disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever entry for consideration in the International Feature Film category because it has too much dialogue in English, according to reports.

The disqualification of Lionheart – directed by and starring Genevieve Nnaji, one of the biggest stars in the Nigerian film industry widely known as Nollywood – was conveyed in an email to voters for the category, The Wrap reported on Monday.

According to the rules by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the 95-minute feature is in English, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The movie was scheduled to be screened to voters for the category, formerly known as best foreign language film, on Wednesday.

‘Proudly Nigerian’

Lionheart, in which Nnaji plays Adaeze, a woman who tries to keep her family’s transportation business afloat after her father suffers a heart attack, is currently streaming on Netflix.

Nnaji took to Twitter to express her disapproval of the Academy’s decision.

Filmmaker Ava Durnay also criticised the Academy in a Twitter post.

“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?”

Many others also took to social media to comment on the Academy’s move.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies