Nigeria’s Oscar Entry ‘Lionheart’ Disqualified By Academy For Too Much English Dialogue — But It’s The Country’s Official Language!

Boy, the people at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences really need to brush up on their history.

The organizers of the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, on Monday disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever entry in the International Feature Film category because, they say, it features too much dialogue in English, according to reports.

“Lionheart,” made by actress-turned-director Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the movie, includes dialogue in the Igbo language of Nigeria — one of 500 languages spoken in the African country.

“Lionheart has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language native to Southeastern Nigeria, while the rest of the 94-minute pic is in English,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That violates an Academy rule that requires entries in the International Feature Film category to have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

But here’s the thing: English IS the official language of Nigeria (which is, when viewed from the United States, a foreign country). The country was, after all, colonized by the British (who also speak English).

Nnaji ripped the decision.


“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,” she wrote on Twitter.

“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?” wrote actress Ava DuVernay, who starred in “Selma.”

“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,” Nnaji added.

Others also criticized the move.

“Nigeria’s first ever entry to the Oscars has been disqualified for… wait for it… featuring too much English. So now we are getting penalised for having been colonised by Britain? Wow. Someone please give TheAcademy a history lesson,” wrote Afua Hirsch, the Wallis Annenberg Chair of Journalism at USC.

“Colonialism really is a bitch,” wrote Franklin Leonard.

“More than 500 indigenous languages are spoken in Nigeria, yet Nigeria’s official™️ language is English. A Nigerian film in English can’t win the Oscars’ foreign™️ category because it’s not foreign™️ enough. Colonizers love to punish the colonized for being colonized,” wrote Ivi Ani.

But the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences say “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.”

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