‘Lionheart’s’ Oscar disqualification an eye-opener —Nigerian awards committee

The Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee has said the country’s disqualification from the 2020 Oscars should be an eye-opener for filmmakers in the Nollywood industry.

The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences had disqualified Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut, ‘Lionheart’, which was Nigeria’s submission to the ‘International Feature Film’ category of the Oscars, for failing to meet the requirement that entries have a “predominantly non-English recording dialogue.”

‘Lionheart’ was recently selected by the NOSC and submitted to represent the country at the award event to be held on February 9, 2020, in Los Angeles, United States.

The film, which first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018, had been up against 92 countries around the globe as Nigeria’s first-ever entry to make to the Academy awards — five years after the NOSC was constituted to that effect.

The Chairman of the committee, Chineze Anyaene, in a statement on Tuesday, said Nigerian filmmakers have had concerns with regard to shooting movies “with non-English recording dialogue” because the industry is “often faced with producing films with a wide reach.”

Anyaene, however, urged filmmakers to henceforth put the requirement into consideration while registering their movies.

According to her, the committee is working to create workshops and other training sessions to increase awareness on the guidelines for an ‘International Feature Film’ entry.

She said, “The budding Nigerian film industry is often faced with producing films with wide reach which often makes the recording dialogue predominantly English with non-English infusions in some cases.

“Going forward, the committee intends to submit films which are predominantly foreign language – non-English recording dialogue.

“We are therefore urging filmmakers to shoot with the intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the most prestigious award.”

Anyaene stated that ‘Lionheart’ passed on other technical requirements, including story, sound and picture, except for language as adjudged by the Academy screening matrix, which she said was a challenge for the committee at a time.

“This is an eye-opener and a step forward into growing a better industry,” she added.

Following the disqualification, Nnaji had expressed her displeasure and took a critical shot at Oscars.

Nnaji tweeted, “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 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us #OneNigeria.

“It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonised us. As ever, this film and many like it is proudly Nigerian.”

 

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