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Lionheart, Nigeria’s first-ever submission for the best international feature has been disqualified by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for having too much dialogue in English.

Directed by and starring Genevieve Nnaji “Lionheart”, the film, which is currently streaming on Netflix, is mostly in English, running afoul of an academy rule that entries in the freshly renamed international feature film category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

Genevieve Nnaji 1

All but roughly 11 minutes of the 95-minute film — about a woman trying to keep her father’s company afloat in a male-dominated world — are in English.

“Lionheart” was one of 10 African films officially submitted for Oscar consideration this year, a record for the continent. With the disqualification, the number of films in contention for the award has dropped from 93 to 92. The film is still eligible to be considered in other Oscar categories.

The academy’s decision, which was communicated via email to Oscar voters.

This isn’t the first time the academy has disqualified a foreign film from consideration for having too much English dialogue; in recent years, the 2015 Afghan film “Utopia” and the 2007 Israeli movie “The Band’s Visit” were disqualified for the same reason.

“To @TheAcademy, 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?”

The disqualification of Lionheart has attracted quite a number of reactions including Ava DuVernay who tweeted:


Responding to the Oscars and at the same time replying to Ava’s tweet, Genevieve Nnaji tweeted:


What does the Academy say about being nominated for Best International Feature Film

Note that Lionheart was not disqualified because it is a bad movie. No, it is because it has too much dialogue. To give a clearer picture, what does the Oscar Academy say?

“The Academy Award for Best International Feature Film (formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film prior to 2020) is handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

By: Damilola Faustino

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