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Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar entry ‘Lionheart’ disqualified for using ‘too much English’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified ‘Lionheart’, Nigeria’s first ever entry for the Oscars in the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category, for featuring too much English, which happens to be the official language of the country.

Directed by and starring Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji, the film has been streaming on Netflix, and was also the first original Nigerian film. Reportedly, the film was withdrawn after the Academy ruled that it didn’t meet the requirements for the award.


I am the director of Lionheart. This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us #OneNigeria. @TheAcademy https://twitter.com/ava/status/1191481642734387200 …


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? https://www.thewrap.com/academy-disqualifies-nigerias-oscar-entry-lionheart/ …

Films in the category must be produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track, according to the Academy’s rules.

According to reports, movie has too many dialogues in English, which doesn’t meet the requirement of Academy rules for ‘Best International Feature Film’ category.

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

The film was also premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. It tells the story of a woman, who struggles to assume control of her family’s transportation company.