Today, Nigerians woke up to the news that their first-ever submission
for best international feature Oscar consideration, “Lionheart” has
been disqualified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The panel said the movie had “too much English dialogue”.
The movie which was directed by ace Nollywood actress, Genevieve
Nnaji, according to the Los Angeles Times ran afoul of the academy
rule which states that an International feature film category must
have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
“Lionheart” is among the 10 African films that were submitted for
Oscar consideration this year.
“This isn’t the first time the academy has disqualified a foreign film
from consideration for having too much English dialogue; in recent
years, the 2015 Afghan film, Utopia, and the 2007 Israeli movie, The
Band’s Visit, were disqualified for the same reason,” Los Angeles
Since this news broke, there have been arguments for and against the decision by Oscar.
Giving her reaction, an American filmmaker, Ava Duvernay wondered why
the movie was disqualified when the official language of Nigeria was
In a tweet on her official Twitter handle she wrote: “To the academy
(Oscar), 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?”
In her response to Ava Duvernay’s tweet, Genevieve Nnaji said: “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 one Nigeria.
“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.”
For Nigerian actor, Deyemi, he chose to see the positive side, saying:
“I can only imagine how many more views Lionheart will have on Netflix
by the end of today! Anyhow you look at it this is a win! Stay
“To think that some Nigerians actually complained that Lionheart had
too much Igbo! Only for the Oscars to think it has too much English?
Total BS! Honestly, I don’t even care for the Oscars at this point!
They might as well change the name back to ‘Foreign language’,” a
Twitter user, Steven Chuks, stated.
Another Twitter user, Britain Danielle, said, “Something about this
doesn’t seem fair. The film was disqualified because it’s mostly in
English. Meanwhile, the official language of Nigeria is….English.”