Ava DuVernay has blasted Oscars bosses for disqualifying Nigeria’s submission for the Best International Feature Film category because its main language is English.
Lionheart, helmed by actress-turned-director Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the movie, was disqualified from the running by officials from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in an email issued on Monday.
Despite the film being partially in the Igbo language of Nigeria, it is mostly in English, violating an Academy rule that states entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.
The decision sparked outrage, with filmmaker Ava taking to Twitter to share her confusion over the decision.
“To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because it’s in English,” she wrote. “But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”
The Farming actress went on to share Ava’s post and added: “Thank you so much @ava 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… As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian. @TheAcademy.”
The Academy is yet to comment on the matter.
More than 90 countries have submitted films to be considered for the category, which was previously known as Best Foreign Language Film. From the long list, 10 finalists will be shortlisted in December, while the final five will be read out with the main nominations in January.
The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on 9 February at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
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