The organisers of the Oscars have disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever entry for consideration in the International Feature Film category because it has too much dialogue in English, according to reports.
The Nollywood movie produced by Chinny Onwugbenu in 2018, was Nigeria’s submission for the 2020 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
After critical review, the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) picked ‘Lionheart’, which was acquired by Netflix in September 2018, making it the first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria.
The group announced the selection in October, following a statutory vetting and subsequent voting of entries received from Nigerian filmmakers at home and in the diaspora.
Released worldwide on January 4, 2019, after a December 2018 theatrical release in Nigeria, is Nnaji’s directorial debut.
According to a report by The Wrap, the fact that Lionheart is mostly in English and partly Igbo language breached an Academy rule that entries in the freshly renamed international feature film category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
The rules by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.
Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the 95-minute feature is in English, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Nigerians took to social media to express their dissatisfaction on the Academy’s move.
The disqualification has dropped the number of films in contention for the award from 93 to 92.
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