Nigeria’s first-ever Oscars entry has been disqualified from the race for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category.
Earlier in October, Nollywood announced the submission of a 106min movie, Lion Heart for the Oscars award.
The Genevieve Nnaji-directed movie, which premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix for worldwide distribution has a mixed dialogue of Igbo(a local Nigerian dialect) and English.
Then entry was however thrown out by the film academy for not meeting the criteria’s for the ‘International Feature Film’ category.
According to the academy, the film violates the rule that entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
In a statement announcing the disqualification, the Oscars stressed that rules for the international feature film category, “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.”
It further noted that Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language native to Southeastern Nigeria, while the rest of the 94-minute picture is in English.
The state, however, noted that the film is not excluded from entering other Oscar categories, including consideration for the best picture.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) has responded to the disqualification.
In a statement released on Monday, Chairman of the group, Chineze Anyaene explained that “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.
It, however, added that “Going forward, the committee intends to submit films which are predominantly foreign language – non-English recording dialogue.”
The group has now charged filmmakers to shoot films with intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the most prestigious award.
SEE THE FULL STATEMENT FROM NIGERIA’S SUBMISSION ACADEMY:
NIGERIA’S SUBMISSION TO THE 92nd ACADEMY AWARDS®
The Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) has today responded to the recent disqualification of the country’s submission to the 92nd Academy Awards® – Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart. The announcement was made on Monday November 4, 2019.
According to the Academy, nominees in its Best International Feature Film Category must have a predominantly non-English dialogue track, and ‘Lionheart’ despite being an unmistakably Nigerian film, did not tick this particular box.
The announcement has attracted concerns from movie producers across the globe, with major voices like Ava DuVernay, American filmmaker and distributor, speaking up about the disqualification on social media, shortly after the announcement.
Responding to this recent development, the NOSC Chairperson Chineze Anyaene 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 intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the most prestigious award.
The committee is working tirelessly in organizing workshops, seminars and using other available media to create robust awareness on the guidelines and requirements for an International Feature Film Entry.
Lionheart passed on other technical requirements from story, to sound and picture except for language as adjudged by the Academy screening matrix, which was a challenge for the committee at a time. This is an eye opener and step forward into growing a better industry.”
The Best International Feature Film category has certain requirements which must be fulfilled before a film can be submitted. Some of them are:
- The film must have been first released in the country submitting it, after which it must have been exhibited for a minimum of 7 consecutive days in a movie theatre
- The movie must be predominantly non-English which means that movies with predominant English dialogue will not qualify for the award
- The film must not be transmitted electronically or otherwise, before it’s official release in the theatre
The shortlist of 10 films will be announced on Monday, December 16, 2019. Nominations for the 92nd Oscars® will be announced on Monday, January 13, 2020.
The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.