May 9, 2021

‘Lionheart’ was recently selected by the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) and submitted to represent the country at the award event to be held on February 9, 2020, in Los Angeles, United States. The much-acclaimed movie, which first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2018, had been up against 92 countries around the world as Nigeria’s first-ever entry to make it to the Academy awards — five years after a committee was constituted to that effect.

According to Thewrap, the movie, which is partially in English and Igbo languages violates an Academy rule that entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track. “The Academy announced the disqualification of “Lionheart” to voters in the category in an email on Monday,” said the news outlet.

“The film was scheduled to screen for Academy voters in the international category on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, “Blood, Passion, and Coffee.” That film will now screen by itself at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.”

Ava Marie DuVernay, American filmmaker and film distributor, who appeared furious over the development, took to her Twitter page to register her annoyance with the organisers of the 2020 Oscars. “To The Academy, 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?,” she asked.

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