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Motion picture academy disqualifies Nigerian Oscar entry ‘Lionheart’ for having…

by Ace Damon
Motion picture academy disqualifies Nigerian Oscar entry 'Lionheart' for having...

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Nigeria's first submission for best international consideration for the Oscars, the comedy "Lionheart", was disqualified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for having much English dialogue.

Directed and starring Genevieve Nnaji – who was called Julia Roberts of Nigeria – "Lionheart" received strong reviews. But the film, which is currently airing on Netflix, is largely in English, violating a academy rule that entries in the newly renamed international film category should have "a predominantly non-English dialogue track." Everyone, about 11 minutes long, the 95-minute movie – about a woman trying to keep her father's company in a male-dominated world – is in English.

"Lionheart" was one of 10 African films officially submitted for Oscar consideration this year, a record for the continent. With the disqualification, the number of films up for grabs fell from 93 to 92. The film is still eligible to be considered in other Oscar categories.

The academy's decision, which was communicated by email to Oscar voters, was first reported by The wrap

This is not the first time the academy disqualifies a foreign film from consideration for having too much English dialogue; In recent years, the 2015 Afghan film "Utopia" and the 2007 Israeli film "The Band's Visit" have been disqualified for the same reason.

Still, the disqualification of “Lionheart” – which, ironically, follows the academy's decision to rename the category from best foreign language film to best international feature film – hit a bitter note with at least one high-powered actor. . Hollywood figure. Director Ava DuVernay tweeted her dismay, noting that English is Nigeria's official language.

For @The gymYou disqualified Nigeria's first submission to the best international feature film because it is in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you preventing this country from competing for an Oscar in your official language? https://t.co/X3EGb01tPF

– Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 4, 2019

For her part, Nnaji tweeted in response to the academy's decision that her film "represents the way we speak as Nigerians. That includes English, which acts as a bridge between the more than 500 languages ​​spoken in our country. … No we chose who colonized us. As always, this movie and many others are proudly Nigerian. "

1/1 1/2 Thank you very 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 more than 500 languages ​​spoken in our country; making us #OneNigeria. @The gym https://t.co/LMfWDDNV3e

– Genevieve Nnaji MFR (@ GenevieveNnaji1) November 4, 2019

2/2 It's no different from how French connects communities in the former French colonies. We do not choose who colonized us. As always, this movie and many others are proudly Nigerian. @The gym https://t.co/LMfWDDNV3e

– Genevieve Nnaji MFR (@ GenevieveNnaji1) November 4, 2019

In fact, English is the official language of many African countries, including Botswana, Ghana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. (One country in which English is not the official language, by the way, is the United States, which has no official language.)

For many longtime Oscar watchers, the "Lionheart" decision – which comes amid a continuing effort by the academy in recent years to attract more members from abroad – can further highlight what some already see as overly arbitrary rules. and sometimes disconcerting governing eligibility in the international category.

Until a rule change in 2006, for example, the films had to be in the official language of the country that submitted them, a requirement that prohibited consideration of the 2004 Italian film "Private," because it was mainly in Arabic and Hebrew. On the other hand, the English films “Apocalypto” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” were not eligible to compete in the foreign language category because they were produced in the United States, despite the fact that both films were nominated for a Golden Globe. Best foreign movie. language movie.

And if all of this is not confusing enough, despite the academy's ostensible language requirement in 1983, a film completely without dialogue, the Algerian dance film "Le Bal" has earned a nomination in the category of foreign language films.

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