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'Less of a Controversy and More of a Misunderstanding,' Oscar Committee Responds to 'Lionheart' Disqualification

"If you're submitting for something as important as an Academy Award, I would think you should look at the rules," says committee co-chair Larry Karaszewski of the backlash surrounding the Genevieve Nnaji film's ineligibility.

The Oscar's International Film Executive Committee has responded to the backlash stemming from the disqualification of Genevieve Nnaji's Lionheart—which was Nigeria's first-ever Oscar submission.

Speaking with Deadline, the committee's co-chair Larry Karaszewski, called the situation "less of a controversy, and more of a misunderstanding."

He clarified the Academy's rules, stating that despite the change in name from "Best Foreign-Language Film" to "Best International Feature Film," earlier this year, the rules for the category remain the same: film's must be predominantly in a language other than English. Lionheart, which runs for 95 minutes, contains just 11 minutes of Igbo dialogue.

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Screenshot from 'Blood Sisters" via YouTube.

The 7 Best Genevieve Nnaji Movies

To celebrate Lionheart's Oscar nomination, we take a look back at the celebrated Nigerian actress' most iconic roles and where to watch them.

It's certainly not blasphemy to say that Genevieve Nnaji is Nollywood's greatest export. Across the course of her career—which spans over 20 years—Nnaji has achieved everything an actor is supposed to and played just about every role you can think of. She emerged as a promising child actor in the 80s, won our hearts with her heartbreaking performance in Ijele and cemented her status as a star with the iconic Sharon Stone role. She then went on to rule the Nigerian film industry (and our hearts) for several years.

Last year, she added a cherry on the delicious cake that is her career with her directorial debut Lionheart, a sentimental drama with a feminist undertone. The film birthed many firsts for Nnaji and Nollywood: it is the first Netflix original Nigerian film and Nigeria's first submission to the Oscars.

Lionheart took Nnaji to Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)—where it was nominated for the Grolsch People's Choice Award—and Morocco for the International Film Festival Marrakech. A deal with a Hollywood-based talent agency followed, and suddenly our not-so-hidden gem became the apple of the world's eyes.

To celebrate the actor and her standout career, OkayAfrica presents you with seven of her most memorable performances. Check them out below.

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