The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Nigeria’s “Lionheart” as an Oscar nominee for Best International Feature Film category.
The Academy ruled that the film did not meet the language requirements for the award since it was largely in English, with only 12 minutes of Nigeria’s Igbo
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines an international feature film as “a feature-length motion picture (more than 40 minutes) produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
Lionheart, a film directed, produced and starring Genevieve Nnaji is Nigeria’s first Netflix original film and the first to have been under the consideration of an Oscar. Lionheart had been contending against 92 other films, of which 28 of those, had been directed by women, a record breaking number of entrants.
I watched the movie Lionheart at the beginning of the year and wrote a review which you can read by clicking on the button below:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements. Award winners are presented with a golden statuette, officially called the “Academy Award of Merit” known popularly as an “Oscar“.
The Academy Award for Best International Feature Film — before the 2020 92nd Academy was known as the Best Foreign Film— was renamed to promote, a positive and inclusive view of filmmaking, and the art of film as a universal experience.
They may have changed the title of the award but they did not review the eligibility requirements and for a production to be considered an International Film its dialogue must be predominantly Non-English, but interestingly enough 1983 Italian-Franco-Algerian nominee Le Bal was a dialogue-less motion picture.
The disqualification of Lionheart has raised a number questions including the somewhat discriminatory eligibility requirements, considering for most African countries the official languages are more a function of colonialism; countries former colonies of Non-English speaking countries can easily submit theirs while others former British colonies cannot use their common unifying official language.
In the spirit of inclusiveness, The Academy needs to review their eligibility criteria or maybe even add a few more categories than just simply changing the title of an award and calling it a universal experience.