Nigeria: Oscar - Academy Disqualifies Genevieve Nnaji's Lionheart

Genevieve Nnaji stars and directs in the Netflix-backed Lionheart
5 November 2019

The Academy (Oscar) has disqualified Nigeria's "Lionheart" directed by Genevieve Nnaji from the Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category, dropping the number of films competing for the award to 92 from what had been a record 93 entries.

The film, Nigeria's first-ever submission in the Best International Feature Film category, is largely in English, which makes it ineligible to compete.

This year's field is now tied with 2017's as the largest in the category's history. Since "Lionheart" was made by actress-turned-director, Genevieve Nnaji, its disqualification drops the number of female directors in this year's race to 28, which is still a category record.

It was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Nigeria.

"Lionheart," in which Nnaji also stars, is partially in the Igbo language of Nigeria. But it is mostly in English, which violates an Academy rule that entries in the category must have "a predominantly non-English dialogue track."

The film had not been vetted by the Academy's International Feature Film Award Executive Committee in advance of the Oct. 7 announcement of qualifying films but was recently viewed and determined not to qualify in a category that until this year was known as Best Foreign Language Film.

One other film, Afghanistan's "Hava, Maryam, Ayesha," had been deemed ineligible before the list of qualifying films was announced. It was denied a spot on the roster of contenders over questions about the legitimacy of the Afghan committee that submitted it.

The Academy announced the disqualification of "Lionheart" to voters in the category in an email on Monday.

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