Nigeria's submission for the Oscars has been disqualified.
The excitement of Nigerians at the Oscar submission of Genevieve Nnaji's directorial debut movie, Lion Heart, has been short-lived after the organized announced a few hours ago that the film was disqualified.
Lionheart was Nigeria's hope of earning its first-ever Oscar nomination. The movie was submitted for consideration in the Best International Feature Film Category.
The Academy, which organizes the prestigious Oscar awards, announced that the reason for the disqualification is because the movie has too much English language in it.
The requirement for films in that category must be in a native language or have a high percentage of it.
According to the Academy, nominees in the Best International Feature Film Category must "have a predominately non-English dialogue track," and 'Lionheart' despite being an unmistakably Nigerian film, doesn't fit the bill.
Despite the few introductions of 'Ibo' and 'Hausa' words in the movie, Lionheart does not fit the bill when considering the Academy requirement.
Also, even though the news came as a shock and has attracted massive criticism all over the world, one cannot agree more that the disqualification will help movie directors do more in producing movies in African indigenous languages especially since they can also make use of subtitles to enable them to reach wider audiences.
The decision comes as a disappointment to many, considering that it was Nigeria's first-ever entry to the Oscars. The Academy also reports that it was one of the record-breaking 29 films out of 93 submitted that were directed by women.
A record-breaking ten films were submitted from Africa this year, including Senegal's Atlantics and Ghana's Azali.
According to a report from The Wrap, the film may have been disqualified before voters in the Best International Feature Film category ever even got a chance to see it. The film was reportedly supposed to screen for voters on Wednesday before the news of its disqualification was announced via email.
Reacting to the disqualification, Nigerian veteran actress and director of the movie, Genevieve Nnaji took to Twitter to say:
"I am the director of Lionheart. This movie represents the way we speak like Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us #OneNigeria.
In another tweet, 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."
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Header Image Credit: People's World