Earlier today, November 5, 2019, the Academy For Motion Picture Arts and Sciences disqualified the Genevieve Nnaji feature-film, 'Lionheart' from potentially getting nominated in the Best International Feature Film category at the 2020 Oscars.
Why was it disqualified?
A Pulse Nigeria article earlier today reads that, "The Academy announced the disqualification of ‘Lionheart’ to voters in the category in an email on Monday, November 4, 2019. It has been revealed that ‘Lionheart’ was not vetted by the Academy’s International Feature Film Award Executive Committee when the NOSC first picked the film.
"After a recent viewing, the Academy deemed the film to have too much much English dialogue and disqualified it from the Best International Feature Film category which until this year was known as Best Foreign Language Film."
NOSC subtly admits its mistake
In October 2019, the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) submitted the movie for Best International Feature Film category of the 2020 Oscars. But in a complete 360, the NOSC has admitted its mistake in a statement signed by its Chairman, Chineze Anyaene.
The important part of the statement reads, "The budding Nigerian film industry is often faced with producing films with wide reach which often makes the recording dialogue predominantly English with non-English infusions in some cases.
"Going forward, the committee intends to submit films that are predominantly foreign language – non-English recording dialogue. We are therefore urging filmmakers to shoot with the intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the most prestigious award."
While that statement begs the question of why the movie was even nominated in the first place, the NOSC then proposed seminars and workshops to help people better understand criteria.
Ladies and gentlemen, the body that nominated 'Lionheart' has in itself done a 360 and admitted that it made a mistake. Why are we arguing again?
Dear Nigerians, please research before you make noise
Yes, the category has been changed from 'Best Foreign Language Film' to 'Best International Feature Film.' But then, that's just semantics. The Academy is trying to be inclusive so it won't get accused of bigotry by entitled people like Nigerians. They don't necessarily owe anybody inclusivity. The only thing they need to guarantee is an assurance of quality.
'Inclusivity' continually gets dogged by the consistently dirty political correctness. Back to the issue at hand, the major criteria to get nominated in this category is simple and it is, "A feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track."
Take note of the word, "non-English." Guys, if the criteria for nomination has been stated, you must adhere to it regardless of the idealist viewpoint you have or what the category is called. Nobody owes you a duty to bend the rules, it's not a Beckham freekick. The Academy is not Nigeria, rules are rules. Stick to them or stay in your country.
Another requirement is that half the dialogue in any nominated movie must be done in foreign language. Lionheart is not the first movie to be disqualified either. Israeli movie, The Band's Visit was disqualified in 2008. Oh and don't forget, Israel is an America ally, so riddle me that. A key rule in this is that 50% of any submitted movie should be made in foreign language.
You know when people type, "tears" on Tweets to underline how shocked they are by a viewpoint or to connote sarcasm? Yes, that's what I feel everytime I have seen people blame colonialism and white people for a mistake the NOSC made.
The argument from this lot is that since the category is now called, 'Best International Film,' typical English-based movies of foreign descent should be nominated in the category. Their argument is that English is Nigeria's lingua franca and as such, English-speaking Nigerian movies should be considered in that category.
First, God bless whoever came up with 'leemau.' I am really battling hard not to type that subtext in this article. My dear Nigerians, the criteria states that "non-English" movies are considered. It might be called, 'Best International Film,' but that criteria remains the same. Even though we speak English, it is not "Foreign language" to America.
The category was created to appreciate movies made in other languages. We speak over 100 dialects in Nigeria. Guys, let's not disgrace our forefathers.
Ava Duvernay is a problem that is slowly becoming bigger. Anytime issues involve women or black people, she lashes out. Usually, she has a point. But sometimes, she blabs some generational bloopers. In her critique of the Oscars, it was clear that she saw the Academy as oppressors of black people and racism was as apparent in her voice as a power bank to a Nigerian youth.
First, rules are rules. Second, English is not the only language we speak in Nigeria. She needs to get informed before tweeting like this. Public figures have a power and they should use their voices responsibly.
'We don't need the Oscars'
It's really funny how Nigerians and oppressed demographics only think little of institutional phenomena when dynamics don't favour them. Some of your faves are on Twitter saying, "We don't need the Oscars."
Excuse me, then stay in your country and build your own awards. If you want their awards, adhere to their rules or you get disqualified. And please, stop being foolish on Twitter by bringing race and misogyny into the conversation. We need to stop abusing victimhood for cheap malpractice when things don't go our way.
If Lionheart had gotten a nod, these same people would have celebrated it more than their first job. It's pretentious and it needs to stop.