The Academy Has Played Itself, Once Again


Sigh. Here we go again! 

Remember how last August, the Academy randomly announced that it was going to introduce a ‘Most Popular Film’ category, with no real details about how that would be gauged, leaving people to speculate how the voting members of the Academy would determine who won the award if it wasn’t to go by box office numbers?

And remember how it was an idea that was absolutely torn to shreds, so much so that a month after the announcement, they ~postponed~ the introduction of the category?

Well, as they say in all horror movie sequels… it’s happening again.

This year, the Academy probably thought it was in the clear when it announced the renaming of the Best Foreign Language Film Award category to Best International Feature Film.

Enter: Nigeria, who entered film Lionheart into the race, only to have it disqualified because it’s primarily an English language film (some scenes are in Igbo).

See, the Academy changed the title of the award, but didn’t change any of the qualifying rules for the category, so while Lionheart is most certainly an International Feature Film, it’s mainly in English, because English is, ya know, the official language of Nigeria.

Ava DuVernay was quick to call out the Academy on Twitter, writing: “You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its [sic] 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?”

“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians,” echoed Lionheart’s director, Genevieve Nnaji, who explained: “This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country.

It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonised us.”

So essentially, the whole thing is a mess.

Good luck to the Academy as it tries to figure out a way out of this one.