03:14 GMT +313 November 2019
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    Oscar statues are pictured outside the Dolby Theater during preparations leading up to the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 21, 2015. The Oscars will be presented at the Dolby Theater February 22, 2015.

    Oscars in Hot Water For Banning Nigerian Film From Competition…For Its Official Language

    © REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni
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    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is no stranger to finding itself in hot water. It seems it’s hard to pick the worst gaffe – not awarding Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick for their works but naming Rocky the Best Picture, or allowing host Seth MacFarlane to sing “we saw your boobs”. However, this story may top all other blunders.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Nigeria’s movie from the International Film category, saying it had too much dialogue in English, despite the fact that the official language in Nigeria is… English. According to the academy’s rules, movies submitted in the International Film category should have predominantly non-English dialogue. Lionheart, directed by Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the film, has less than 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language and the rest of the movie is in English.

    Director Genevieve Nnaji took to Twitter to criticise the academy’s decision, saying English serves as a bridge between more than 500 languages that are spoken in Nigeria.

    ​Nnaji’s colleague, director Ava DuVernay, also denounced the disqualification, wondering whether it means that the academy is barring the country from competing for the most prestigious movie award.

    ​The news also prompted heated debate on social media, with some users saying that it was an unreasonable decision to submit the movie in the International Film category, considering the requirements set by the academy.

    Other users contended that it was an unfair and cruel ruling, given the fact that the country was colonised by the United Kingdom and gained independence in 1960.

    Many users praised the movie, but stressed that Nigerian movies should represent the country’s culture and hence should feature dialogues in its major languages.

    ​Still others said that making movies in other languages will be quite tricky, as more than 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria.

    ​Lionheart tells the story of a woman who had to take charge of a company after her father stepped down because of health issues. It debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 and is currently available on Netflix.

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    Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Nigeria, Oscars
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