The Oscars 2021: Some African Film Submissions So Far...
The 93rd Academy Awards postponement has extended the eligibility period of films, and the window has now been opened to 28 February 2021. This was supposed to be the Oscars' original date, and now the prestigious award ceremony will take place on 25 April.
This extension has given Africa more time, to submit their finest films in the Best International Feature Film category and be nominated. So far, Africa has submitted ten films. In the history of this category, only three African countries have won in the grouping - Algeria's "Z" in 1969, Ivory Coast's "Black and White in Color" ("La Victoire en chantant") in 1976 and South Africa's 'Tsotsi' in 2006.
15 years after the last win African countries, is still hoping to secure a nomination (recent African nominations include South Africa's 'Yesterday' in 2005, Algeria's 'Outside The Law' in 2011 and Mauritania's "Timbuktu" in 2014).
In 2020, Nigeria's first-ever submission, Netflix's 'Lion Heart' was disqualified based on language ineligibility. This year, the country has submitted, 'The Milkmaid' which 100 percent non-English and critically acclaimed.
Below is the list of African Films submitted, to contend for the Best International Feature Film category:
Nigeria Official Selection Committee (For the Academy Awards® IFF Submissions) confirmed Desmond Ovbiagele's 'The Milkmaid' as Nigeria's submission in December 2020. The 100 non-English film explores the harsh realities of insurgency in Northern Nigeria.
Lesotho's submission is Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese's acclaimed 'This Is Not A Burial, It's A Resurrection'. Following an impressive festival run including Sundance, International Film Festival Rotterdam, the movie was selected as the Southern African country's flagbearer. It is interestingly, Lesotho's first Oscar submission.
Mosese's film is centred on an 80-year-old widow who reignites her community's will to fight following forceful resettlement.
Another first-time contender, Sudan joins the Oscars race with its Amjad Abu Alala film, 'You Will Die At Twenty'. The film follows the story of a young man who turns 19 after a prophecy from his village's holy man that he will die at 20.
4. South Africa
South Africa has been quite successful at the Oscars. The country is one of the few to have gotten nominated twice with one win and shortlisted twice.
This year, Rene van Rooyen's 'Toorbos' is the country's flagbearer. Set in the 1930s, the film follows the story of a young woman confronting a conflict between her ideals and those of her husband.
Morocco's 16th Oscars IFF submission (the country has been shortlisted once) is a crime comedy directed by Alaa Eddine Aljem. 'The Unknown Saint' centres on a criminal who returns years later to collect the loot he carefully hid in a grave but discovers that an unknown saint has inhabited it.
Algeria first taste of victory was in 1970 for the Costa Gavras directed 'Z'. Since then, it has been nearly a handful of nominations.
The country's 2021 submission is 'Héliopolis' directed by Djaâfar Gacem. The film is based on a crucial period in Algeria's history - the Sétif and Guelma massacre of 1945.
Egypt's submission is Tamer Ezzat's 'When We're Born'. The feature film centres on three characters: a Christian woman who is in love with a Muslim man, a son who hopes to pursue a music career against his father's wishes and a newly-wed gym instructor who must compromise his principles to own a gym.
Kenya's submission, 'The Letter' is a documentary film directed by Maia Lekow and Chris King. It follows a young man who returns to his village after his grandmother receives death threats and accusation of witchcraft. The documentary further explores the shocking practice influenced by religious beliefs.
9. Ivory Coast
Ivory Cost's second Oscar submission since its 1976 win is Philippe Lacôte's 'Night of the Kings'. The film is based on a young man's first night in the infamous Ivorian prison La Maca. He is told he must entertain his audience as the designated storyteller until morning, risking death should he fail.
Tunisia's seventh submission is 'The Man Who Sold His Skin' directed by Kaouther Ben Hania. The movie is based on Sam Ali, a Syrian man who escapes the Syrian war to Lebanon, hoping to reunite with his lover in Paris eventually.