By Godson Ikiebey-

Veteran Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji, has expressed reservations over the disqualification of ‘Lionheart’, her directorial debut movie, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

‘Lionheart’ was recently selected by the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) and submitted to represent the country at the award event to be held on February 9, 2020, in Los Angeles, United States.

The much-acclaimed movie, which first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2018, had been up against 92 countries around the world as Nigeria’s first-ever entry to make to the Academy awards — five years after a committee was constituted to that effect.

In a report by Thewrap, the movie, which is partially in English and Igbo languages violates an Academy rule that entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.  The report said that:

“The Academy announced the disqualification of “Lionheart” to voters in the category in an email on Monday, November 4, 2019. 

“The film was scheduled to screen for Academy voters in the international category on Wednesday,  in a double bill with the Honduran entry, “Blood, Passion, and Coffee.” That film will now screen by itself at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood”. 

Ava Marie DuVernay, American filmmaker and film distributor, who appeared furious over the development, took to her Twitter page to register annoyance with the organisers of the 2020 Oscars. She said: 

“To The Academy, 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?”. 

In reaction to the tweet, the award-winning Nigerian actress said ‘Lionheart’ represents the “way we speak as Nigerians”. 

She also took a critical shot at the Oscars, stating that “we did not choose who colonized us”. She wrote:

“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. 

“It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian”. 

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