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Ava DuVernay and Lionheart actress respond to Academy’s Oscar disqualification of Nigerian film, ‘Lionheart’


ABC/Paula LoboAfter news broke that the Academy had disqualified the film Lionheart from the Best International Feature Oscars race because the predominant language used in it is English, Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay is speaking out on the film’s behalf.

“To @TheAcademy, You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English,” she wrote in a tweet on Monday evening, sharing a link to a story about the reason for the film’s disqualification. “But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”

In the article about the disqualification, the Academy notes that the film, which was made by actress-turned-director Genevieve Nnaji, violates an Academy rule that states entries in the Best International Feature film category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

It’s worth noting that the film includes dialogue spoken in the Igbo language of Nigeria, although the majority of the dialogue is English.

Lionheart’s director and star Njaji also took to Twitter to address the Academy’s disqualification, thanking DuVernay for speaking out.

“I am the director of Lionheart,” she wrote. “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. @TheAcademy.”

She continued, “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. @TheAcademy.”

As previously noted, Lionheart stars Nnajis as Adaeze, a woman who takes over her father’s company, which is ruled by a group of men including her incompetent uncle.

Lionheart is available on Netflix.

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