The Oscars history of snubbing is legendary. Now the Academy Awards is being slammed for disqualifying a Nigerian film because the movie is in English — which is the official language in Nigerian.
The film is “Lionheart,” which is Nigeria’s first-ever submission to the Academy Awards and has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie is described as, “Running a company can be challenging, especially if you are a female in a male-dominated industry. Looking to prove her worth, Adaeze steps up to the challenge when her father, Chief Ernest Obiagu is forced to take a step back due to health issues. Ironically, he appoints his crude and eccentric brother, Godswill, instead to run the company with his young daughter. Complications arise when they discover that the family business is in dire financial straits and both Adaeze and Godswill try to save the company in their own way to crazy and often hilarious results.”
Directed by Genevieve Nnaji, The New York Times said about the movie, “Along the way, ‘Lionheart’ offers sidelong observations about the importance of preserving a family legacy; the need for comity among Nigeria’s classes and ethnic groups; and the wisdom of older generations, even when change is necessary. It is globally minded filmmaking that is also comfortingly familiar.”
The film, which is Nnaji’s directorial debut did not qualify for the international feature film Oscar category because, according to the rules, “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie has “under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language native to Southeastern Nigeria, while the rest of the 94-minute pic is in English. The film is not excluded from entering other Oscar categories, including consideration for best picture.”
Nnaji reacted on Twitter by saying, “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 also wrote, “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.” See the trailer below: