Nigerian film disqualified from Oscars for using too much English
“Lionheart,” Nigeria’s first-ever entry to the Oscars under the best international feature film category, was disqualified due to its mostly English dialogue.
The film, directed by Genevieve Nnaji, is partly in the Igbo language, the native language of an ethnic group in southeastern Nigeria. Nnaji said the movie “represents the way we speak as Nigerians” in a tweet on Nov. 5.
According to the category’s rules, the film should be “produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
The film’s disqualification was announced to voters on Monday, Nov. 4, The Wrap reported.
English is Nigeria’s official language after being colonized by the British for almost a century. It gained independence in 1960.
Director Ava DuVernay decried the Academy’s move on Monday, stating in a tweet, “Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”
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
However, some Nigerians have questioned why the movie was submitted in the first place given the category’s rules, BBC reported on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
“Lionheart” is about a woman, played by Nnaji, who wants to manage her father’s company as he experiences health issues. However, her father chooses his brother to run it, and she needs to work with her uncle to save it while treading a male-dominated society. The film is available on Netflix. Niña V. Guno /ra
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