Nigerian submitted its film Lionheart directed by Genevieve Nnaji to the Academy Awards for the next year's gala. However, the film has been disqualified on the grounds of less of non-English dialogues. The film was submitted for the category of Best International Film and the Academy has rejected the submission citing that the film has only one dialogue which is in a foreign language. The rest of the film is in English. As per rules, the film has to have a predominantly non-English dialogue track but Lionheart has mere 11 mins of dialogue that are in Igbo language.
The Academy awards received backlash for their action, however, in the statement released, they have cleared that Lionheart does not qualify as per the rules. Variety shared a part of the statement given out by the Academy Awards that read, “In April 2019, we announced that the name of the Foreign Language Film category changed to International Feature Film. We also confirmed that the rules for the category would not change. The intent of the award remains the same — to recognize accomplishment in films created outside of the United States in languages other than English."
"As this year’s submitted films were evaluated, we discovered that ‘Lionheart’ includes only 11 minutes of non-English dialogue, which makes it ineligible for this award category,” read the statement further.
American filmmaker and distributor Ava Duvernay seems to have taken Lionheart's disqualification to heart as she posted on Twitter, "But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?"
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