Nkem ‘Osuofia’ Owoh (left) and Genevieve Nnaji in ‘Lionheart’ (2018). The movie, which shows the Nigerian star actress taking full creative control of the kind of empowering story that endeared her to Nollywood audiences all over the world, marked the first Netflix original film from Nigeria / Photo: TIFF

Nigeria’s Oscar entry ‘Lionheart’ disqualified

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, organisers of the Oscars, has disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever entry because it has too much dialogue in English, according to reports.

The disqualification of Lionheart – directed by and starring Genevieve Nnaji, one of the biggest stars in the Nigerian film industry widely known as Nollywood – was conveyed in an email to voters for the International Feature Film category, The Wrap reported on Monday.

According to the rules of the Academy, “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the 95-minute feature is in English, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The movie was scheduled to be screened to voters for the International Feature Film category, formerly known as best foreign language film, on Wednesday.

Lionheart movie was premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and acquired on 7 September 2018 as the first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria.

A drama film, LionHeart features some Nigerian acting icons like Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, and music impresario Onyeka  Onwenu, etc.

The movie, Nnaji’s directorial debut as well as Peter Okoye’s first time on the screen, was released worldwide in January 2019 on Netflix.

Nnaji has taken to Twitter to express her disapproval of the Academy’s decision.


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