In spite of its acclaim, one of the biggest pieces of cinema to come out of Nigeria in recent memory was deemed ineligible for the Best International Film category at the Oscars for a surprising reason. 

According to The Wrap, it was announced that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified the film Lionheart from the Oscar race.

The film would have been Nigeria’s entry in the Best International Film Category at the 2020 Oscars. The film’s disqualification was announced in an email to Academy voters on Monday. 

The film, which was directed by and stars Nollywood icon Genevieve Nnaji as a woman who tries to save the company of her ailing father from debt, was said to have violated an Academy rule that mandates entries in the Best International Film Category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.” It is worth noting that Nigeria’s official language is English, and the Oscars recently changed the category name from Best Foreign Language Film to Best International Film.

Many on Twitter have spoken out about the disqualification, including Ava DuVernay.

Nnaji herself also commented on the matter, quoting DuVernay’s tweet.

The film, which is now available as a Netflix original film, was Nigeria’s first submission in the Best international Film Oscar category. Netflix acquired the film after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Shadow And Act has reached out to The Academy for comment on the change.


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Photo: Netflix

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