Nigeria’s first ever Oscar submission for best international feature film, Lionheart, has been disqualified by organizers of the Academy Awards.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy Awards rejected the Genevieve Nnanji’s movie entry for this year’s Best International Feature Film award, over its predominantly English dialogue, even though English is Nigeria’s official language.
This April, the Academy changed the name of its “Foreign Language Film Award” to the “International Feature Film Award.”
The name change, however, did not reflect a change to the category’s rules, which required “a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.
This was very disappointing as it would have been Nigeria’s first ever submission for best international feature at the Oscars, since the coveted award was hard to come by for any person of color, and was particularly disheartening because the decision was made after the award had already been received.
However, the film is still eligible to be considered in other Oscar categories.
Genevieve Nnaji directed and starred in “Lionheart”, which earned strong reviews and is currently streaming on Netflix.
The movie was one of 10 African films officially submitted for Oscar consideration this year, a record for the continent.