Nigeria Oscar Committee Reacts to Genevieve's Lionheart Disqualification

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

The Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) has responded to the disqualification of the country's submission to the 92nd Academy Awards, Genevieve Nnaji's 'Lionheart'.

The announcement was made on Monday.

The Academy said nominees in its Best International Feature Film Category must have a predominantly non-English dialogue track.

'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 American filmmaker and distributor, Ava DuVernay, speaking up about the disqualification on social media, shortly after the announcement.

Responding to this development on Tuesday, the NOSC Chairperson, Chineze Anyaene, said Nigeria's budding film industry is often faced with producing films with a wide reach.

She told PREMIUM TIMES that the reason stated above 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 the 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 organising workshops, seminars and using other available media to create robust awareness on the guidelines and requirements for an International Feature Film Entry. This is an eye-opener and a step forward into growing a better industry," she noted.

The NOSC chairperson also added that Lionheart passed other technical requirements from the 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.

The Best International Feature Film category has certain requirements that 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 seven 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 its official release in the theatre

The shortlist of 10 films will be announced on December 16. Nominations for the 92nd Oscars will be announced on January 13, 2020.

The 92nd Oscars will be held on 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.

The newly constituted Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee comprises old and young Nollywood stakeholders.

The members include Mildred Okwo, Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Ngozi Okafor, Charles Novia, Abba Makama, Bruce Ayonote, Ramsey Nouah, Chioma Ude, Shaibu Husseini, Adetokunbo "DJ Tee" Odubawo and CJ Obasi.

Nigeria joined 82 other countries contesting for the 'International Feature Film' category at the Oscars in 2014.

This was after approval and subsequent inauguration of the NOSC in February 2014.

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