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Oscar Disqualifies Nigeria’s Movie Entry “Lionheart” For Having Too Much English Dialogue

Lion Heart , Nigeria’s first ever submission to Oscar for the best international feature award category, has been disqualified.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Genevieve Nnanji’s “Lionheart” from this year’s Best International Feature Film award or having for too much dialogue in English.

”LionHeart” which is Nigeria’s first-ever submission for best international feature Oscar consideration, was disqualified from getting a spot in the nominations list because of its predominantly English dialogue.

According to the Academy’s rules for the international feature film category, “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.”

Lionheart has just 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’, but can’t make the ‘best international feature film’ category because the movie is predominantly in English.

Many people in the movie industry, including American filmmaker and director, Ava DuVernay, are faulting the Academy’s decision to disqualify ‘Lionheart’, noting that English is Nigeria’s official language.

In its attempt to encourage foreign language films, Ava DuVernay asked, is the Academy penalizing international filmmakers operating in their country’s most commonly spoken language?

Director Nnaji, who also stars and directed in the film, took to Twitter Monday night to defend Lionheart, saying: “It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies,” she pointed out in one tweet. “We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it is, is proudly Nigerian.”

Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List, added, “Colonialism really is a bitch.”

The reaction from people inside and outside of Nigeria has been united by ridiculing the Academy’s decision as well as pointing our the country’s obvious historical colonial reasons for having English as a national language.

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