Nigeria’s Oscar entry ‘Lion heart’ disqualified over predominant use of English Language
The Academy has disqualified Nigeria’s “Lionheart” from the Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category, lessening the number of films competing from what had been a record 93 entries. The film was disqualified based on language which has roused debates on poor award management historic insensitivity.
Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature Oscar category, ‘Lionheart’ was disqualified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS also known as the Academy) for containing too much English dialogue.
The film about a woman trying to keep her father’s company afloat in a male-dominated world only has roughly 11 minutes of the 95-minute film in native Igbo while the rest of the film is in the country’s National language, English.
The disqualification has caused immense backlash with many accusing the Academy of insensitivity in penalizing the film for using a language that is not of choice but of oppression. The Academy rules may be clear cut, but they did not fully consider the historical gravity of the disqualification.
Film lead and acclaimed actress Genevieve Nnaji said on Twitter, “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.” She added, “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.”