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Africa Shut Out of Oscars Best International Feature Race

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its shortlist for the Best International Feature category of the 94th Academy Awards – a list that doesn’t include a single African entry.

As years go, 2021 was a strong one for African film. Productions from the continent overcame challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to still feature at international film festivals and find an audience both at home and abroad. In the run-up to next year’s Oscars, ten submissions were made by African countries to be considered for nominations in the Best International Feature category of the ceremony, due to take place on March 27th.

Among the films submitted included titles that won awards and garnered much acclaim – from Somalia’s The Gravedigger’s Wife, which earned the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Chad’s Lingui, The Sacred Bonds, which received rapturous reviews from the likes of the Guardian and the LA Times.

So it feels disappointing that, now, as the Oscars have made their shortlist known, before revealing the final list of nominees in January, not a single film from Africa made the shortlist for the upcoming awards. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise, since films from Africa have not been a prominent part of the industry’s biggest night for quite a few years. Since the category, previously known as Best Foreign Language, debuted in 1956 (when Italy’s La Strada won), African films have been slim among the nominees.

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Photo: Josef Yohannes / The Urban Legend

How A New Generation of Comic Book Creators is Sharing Africa’s History

From Uganda to the DRC, Nigeria to Côte d'Ivoire, comic book creators and graphic novel illustrators are taking full advantage of the art-form to tell uniquely African stories.

For many outside of the continent, Captain Africa, with his solar-powered cape enabling him to fly at super-speed, was the first African superhero comic to go global. Created by Ghanaian Andy Akman and published by Nigeria's African Comics Limited, Captain Africa spent the late '80s on a mission to "fight the evil and dark forces that threatened Africa and the whole world," particularly in a post-colonial world.

While the comic book series as it was originally known may have sputtered out, the influence of Captain Africa lives on, in a new generation of comic book creators and graphic novelists who're using the art-form to engage readers with various parts of the continent's history. In illustrating their own brands of African superheroes and everyman characters, they're envisioning a future of Africa wholly anchored in its past.

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