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Nigerian movie Lionheart disqualified from Oscars for having too much English

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Nigerian movie Lionheart disqualified from Oscars for having too much English. The Genevieve Nnaji directed “Lionheart” was Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar-entry in the international film category. However, the movie was disqualified for having too much English, despite the fact that English is one of Nigeria’s official languages.

There is outrage across the world after the Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, disqualified entry from Nigeria because the movie features too much English.

This has been met with outrage across the world, but particularly in Africa as filmmakers argue that Africans did not choose who colonised them. The filmmakers argued that it is unfair that entries from Francophone countries made in French are acceptable while those from Anglophone countries made in English are disqualified.

Genevieve Nnaji

 

The academy’s board of governors which changed the category from “foreign language film” category to “international feature film” in April this year is sticking to its guns arguing that the award is meant to recognize accomplishment in films created outside of the United States in languages other than English. In a statement the Academy said,

As this year’s submitted films were evaluated, we discovered that ‘Lionheart’ includes only 11 minutes of non-English dialogue, which makes it ineligible for this award category,

Below are some of the reactions from filmmakers from across the world, Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay wrote on social media site Twitter,

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?

Renowned Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga wrote. They may have to rethink as this boils down to discrimination on the basis of who colonised you. E.g. Francophone Africans may submit in the language of the coloniser but not Anglophone Africans.

Celebrated Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji, who was making her directorial debut also responded to Ava DuVernay’s tweet saying,

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

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

Source – iHarare

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