Local Film

Netflix’s First Nollywood Film Disqualified From Oscars Consideration

Lionheart, Nigeria’s first-ever film submitted for Oscar consideration in the International Feature Film category, has been disqualified by the Oscars for not meeting the non-English dialogue quota, per the category’s requirements.

The film that stars and is directed by Genevieve Nnaji, one of Nollywood’s leading talents, is predominantly in English with only approximately 12 minutes of the film’s 95-minutes in Igbo, one of Nigeria’s main languages. Lionheart is also Netflix’s first original film from Nigeria. While it was available on the streaming platform, it had been shown in local cinemas which met the Academy’s requirements.

The movie’s disqualification has sparked a debate about how the language rule impacts movie industries in regions where English is the official language with the 2017 Academy Award nominee Ava Duvernay among the critics of the decision to disqualify Lionheart. Nnaji has defended the dominance of English in her film saying that the language acts as a bridge between more than 500 languages spoken in Nigeria.

While Nnaji makes a good point about the language diversity in Nigeria, local language Nollywood movies are a popular staple in and outside the country among non-speaking audiences. In fact, many of Nollywood’s productions are still filmed in local languages and follow the “low-budget, high-volume” formula.

An unintended consequence of Lionheart’s Oscar disqualification could now see big-budget Nollywood films featuring more local language dialogue in the hopes of qualifying for Oscar consideration. Chineze Anyaene, the chair of Nigeria’s Oscar Selection Committee has already said that in future the committee intends to submit films which are predominantly foreign language and is urging Nigeria’s filmmakers to film with non-English recording dialogue as a main qualifying parameter for the Academy Awards.

Credit: This article originated from www.qz.com


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