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Nigeria’s Oscar race entry Lionheart disqualified by Academy for Having Too Much English !

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Organisers say feature does not meet requirements for ‘predominantly non-English dialogue track’, according to reports.

7 hours ago
Producer Chinny Onwugbenu, left, actor Nkem Owoh, centre, and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji, right, from the film Lionheart at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival [Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]
Producer Chinny Onwugbenu, left, actor Nkem Owoh, centre, and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji, right, from the film Lionheart at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival [Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]

The organisers of the Oscars have disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever entry for consideration in the International Feature Film category because it has too much dialogue in English, according to reports.

The disqualification of Lionheart – directed by and starring Genevieve Nnaji, one of the biggest stars in the Nigerian film industry widely known as Nollywood – was conveyed in an email to voters for the category, The Wrap reported on Monday.

According to the rules by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the 95-minute feature is in English, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The movie was scheduled to be screened to voters for the category, formerly known as best foreign language film, on Wednesday.

‘Proudly Nigerian’

Lionheart, in which Nnaji plays Adaeze, a woman who tries to keep her family’s transportation business afloat after her father suffers a heart attack, is currently streaming on Netflix.

Nnaji took to Twitter to express her disapproval of the Academy’s decision.

Genevieve Nnaji MFR

✔@GenevieveNnaji1

1/1 1/2 Thank you so much @ava❤.
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. @TheAcademy https://twitter.com/ava/status/1191481642734387200 

Ava DuVernay

✔@ava

To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language? https://www.thewrap.com/academy-disqualifies-nigerias-oscar-entry-lionheart/ 

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Genevieve Nnaji MFR

✔@GenevieveNnaji1

2/2 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. @TheAcademy https://twitter.com/ava/status/1191481642734387200 

Ava DuVernay

✔@ava

To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language? https://www.thewrap.com/academy-disqualifies-nigerias-oscar-entry-lionheart/ 

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Filmmaker Ava Durnay also criticised the Academy in a Twitter post.

“You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”

Ava DuVernay

✔@ava

To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language? https://www.thewrap.com/academy-disqualifies-nigerias-oscar-entry-lionheart/ 

Academy Disqualifies Nigeria’s Oscar Entry ‘Lionheart’

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

thewrap.com

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Many others also took to social media to comment on the Academy’s move.

Afua Hirsch

✔@afuahirsch

Nigeria’s first ever entry to the Oscars has been disqualified for… wait for it… featuring too much English. So now we are getting penalised for having been colonised by Britain? Wow. Someone please give @TheAcademy a history lesson https://twitter.com/AJENews/status/1191660693495390209 

Al Jazeera News

✔@AJENews

Nigeria’s Oscar race entry Lionheart disqualified by Academy https://aje.io/lakep 

View image on Twitter

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Mazi Efam™ #SantaInIbadan@iefamharris

Lionheart has been disqualified from the Oscar.

Reason: A Nigerian movie should not have so much English.

Mind you, we were colonized by this same English people, English is our official language.

This right here is BS! And it’s discriminatory.

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Tunde Omotoye 🇳🇬@TundeTASH

On Lionheart.

It’s okay if you say you disqualified a movie because the story line isn’t good enough. Or the picture quality. Or the sound.

But why penalize because the movie is in English, the country’s official language?

Common colonizer.

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SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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