Cape Town – The Academy has barred Nigeria's first-ever Oscar submission.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lionheart, that was entered consideration in the Best International Feature Film Category was disqualified on Monday because it contains too much English dialogue.
Genevieve Nnaji makes her directorial debut and also stars in it alongside Peter Edochie and Nkem Owoh. It made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in 2019 where Netflix acquired the rights for distribution of the film.
The film centres on Adaeze who steps in to run the family business alongside her uncle when her father falls ill. She has to prove herself in the male-dominated world.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
The Wrap reports that the Academy announced the ineligibility to voters in the category via email on Monday.
According to the Academy's rules for the category, an international film must have a "predominantly non-English dialogue track."
The film only has 12 minutes of dialogue in Igbo, while the rest is in English, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
Genevieve responded to the film's disqualification on Twitter saying: "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".
She continued: "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."
Academy member director Ava DuVernay also criticised the decision. She wrote on Twitter: "To @TheAcademy, you disqualified Nigeria's first-ever submission for Best International Feature because it's 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?"
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://t.co/X3EGb01tPF— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 4, 2019
On Tuesday the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) released a statement saying that they made a mistake in submitting the film for consideration.
"The budding Nigerian film industry is often faced with producing films with wide reach, which often makes the recording dialogue predominantly English with non-English infusions in some cases. Going forward, the committee intends to submit films that are predominantly foreign language — non-English recording dialogue", read the statement.
"Lionheart passed on other technical requirements from 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. This is an eye-opener and a step forward into growing a better industry."
Oscar nominations will be announced on Monday, 13 January 2020. The ceremony will take place on Sunday, 9 February.