Academy disqualifies Nigerian Oscar entry over too much English dialogue

Ravi Bansal

Los Angeles, Nov 5 (PTI) Nigeria's submission for best international feature category of the Oscar, 'Lionheart', has been disqualified by the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over its excessive English dialogues.

According to The Wrap, the film, directed by and featuring Genevieve Nnaji, does not adhere to Academy's rule that a submission for international feature film category must have 'a predominantly non-English dialogue track'.

The film is about a woman trying to keep her family's transportation business afloat after her father suffers a heart attack.

It has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the 95-minute feature is in English.

The Academy conveyed its decision to Oscar voters through an e-mail.

'Lionheart' was one of 10 African films officially submitted for Oscar consideration this year, a record for the continent.

With the disqualification, the number of films in contention for the award has dropped from 93 to 92.

On Twitter, filmmaker Ava DuVernay criticised the Academy for its decision, saying that English is the official language of Nigeria.

'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?' the director said.

Sharing DuVernay's post, Nnaji thanked the filmmaker for her support.

'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.

'It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonised us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian. @TheAcademy' Nnaji wrote. PTI RB RB BKBK