popular

Nigeria's Oscar Hopeful, 'Lionheart,' Has Been Disqualified Because It's in English

According to the Academy, nominees in its Best International Feature Film Category must "have a predominately non-English dialogue track," and 'Lionheart' despite being an unmistakably Nigerian film, doesn't fit the bill.

Nigeria's hopes of earning its first Oscar nomination were cut short today after the academy disqualified Genevieve Nnaji's directorial debut, Lionheart from consideration in the Best International Feature Film category, The Wrap reports.

According to the Academy the film does not meet the language requirement necessary for inclusion in the category since it was filmed mostly in English. Despite the film having some Igbo parts, an Academy rule—which states that films must have "a predominantly non-English dialogue track" in order to be considered for the category—makes it ineligible.

The decision comes as a disappointment considering it was Nigeria's first ever entry to the Oscars and it was one of the record-breaking 29 films out of 93 originally submitted this year that were directed by women. There were a record-breaking 10 films from the continent submitted this year, including Senegal's Atlantics and Ghana's Azali.

According to a report from The Wrap, it seems the film may have been disqualified before voters in the Best International Feature Film category ever even got a chance to see it. The film was reportedly supposed to screen for voters on Wednesday, before the news of its disqualification was announced via email on Monday.


UPDATE: The Academy to Nigeria: "If you're submitting for something as important as an Academy Award, I would think you should look at the rules."

To many observers online, the decision further highlights the outmoded ways of the Academy, which has consistently drawn backlash for its prioritization of films with predominantly white casts and directors. Movies from outside of the US and Europe are underrepresented and jumbled into the vague "Best International Feature Film" category. It's also worth noting that the category was previously called "Best Foreign Language Film," before it was changed to "Best International Feature Film" earlier this year.

Many have also pointed out that despite Lionheart being primarily In English, the film is unmistakably Nigerian. To deem it not culturally-specific enough is to essentially ignore the country's complex history of colonialism and the fact that many Nigerians speak English as a primary language because of it. In fact, it's the country's official language, as writer and editor Britni Danielle pointed out on Twitter.

The Academy's decision also points to a Western need for cultural productions from elsewhere in the world to fit a certain definition of "foreign" or "exotic" in order to prove their authenticity. It's almost as if the Academy felt the film's perceived familiarity invalidated its right to call itself Nigerian.

The news of Lionheart becoming Nigeria's first Oscar submission was originally met with widespread excitement that is now being dimmed by news of its early disqualification.

Nnaji took to Twitter following the announcement, to respond to the film's exclusion, writing "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.

In another tweet she added, "It's no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian."

popular

The 25 Essential Wizkid Songs

All of Wizkid's biggest hits to date, including the Nigerian Starboy's massive singles and notable features. Updated in 2019.

Wizkid is one of the biggest artist coming out of Africa right now.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Photo by Jamal Nxedlana.

Afripedia is the Visual Platform Connecting African Artists to Their Clients

The newly launched platform wants to foster a strong community of African artists on the continent and in the diaspora.

Afripedia is live! The curated visual platform, which was created by Swedish production collective Stocktownfilms aims to do away with misrepresentation within the creative industry and connect African creatives to their clients by giving them increased exposure. The platform comes five years after an initial 5-part documentary series which focused on creatives in Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Deaan Vivier/Foto24/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Miss South Africa Wants Men to Write Love Letters to Women to Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping abusive men from writing these love letters too.

South Africa's newly crowned Miss SA Zozibini "Zozi" Tunzi has launched a "HeForShe" campaign which aims to tackle the alarming rates of femicide and gender-based violence in the country. The campaign, which is in partnership with the South African arm of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), wants South African men to step up and join the collective fight against abuse. However, the campaign has been criticized by many because of the way in which it wants men to step—by writing love letters to women. The campaign has divided South Africans, particularly those on social media.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Romain Chanson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Gambian Beauty Queen Fatou Jallow's Movement Against Sexual Assault Gains Traction

After publicly accusing former President Yahya Jammeh of rape, young women under the #IamToufah banner are standing against sexual assault in the country.

A few months ago, former Gambian beauty queen Fatou 'Toufah' Jallow publicly accused former President Yahya Jammeh of rape. The 23-year-old alleged that Jammeh had raped her following her refusal of his marriage proposal during his time in office back in 2015. Under the leadership of current President Adama Barrow, The Gambian government established the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which is now investigating human rights violations during Jammeh's tenure. Jallow, who is testifying at the commission, has spurred a movement where young women are taking a stand against sexual assault in the country under the #IamToufah banner.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.