Lionheart, the 2018 Nigerian drama film produced by Chinny Onwugbenu and directed by Genevieve Nnaji, has become Nigeria's first-ever entry to the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars. The Netflix original film has been submitted for the 'Best International Feature Film' category.
The film stars Genevieve Nnaji as Adaeze, a young woman who steps up to run the family transport business after her father (Pete Edochie) experiences some health issues. Adaeze, alongside her uncle (Nkem Owoh), has to save the business from financial ruin whilst facing rampant sexism in the male-dominated business world. The film was written by Genevieve Nnaji, Chinny Onwugbenu, C. J. Obasi, Ishaya Bako and Emil Garuba.
Lionheart is also the first Netflix original from Nollywood, Nigeria's massive film industry. Nollywood is second in terms of output to India's Bollywood and bigger than the US's Hollywood. Nollywood is said to produce at least 50 films per week, and the country has an Oscars selection committee which was set up in 2014. However, the committee has not picked a film to send to the Oscars – until now.
Notably, the Oscars changed the category of "Best Foreign Language Film" to "Best International Feature Film" in April of this year. “We have noted that the reference to ‘Foreign’ is outdated within the global filmmaking community,” Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, co-chairs of the International Feature Film Committee, said in a press release. “We believe that International Feature Film better represents this category, and promotes a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.”
Header Image Credit: Global Black History