Ava DuVernay slams Academy for disqualifying Nigerian Oscar submission ‘Lionheart’

Ava DuVernay is speaking out against the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for disqualifying the Nigerian film, Lionheart. 

The director of When They See Us slammed the organization on Monday after it announced that the Nigerian film was being disqualified from the Oscar race. The film marks Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission and was hoping to be a contender in the Best International Film category, but was disqualified because most of the dialogue is in English.

The Academy’s rules state that submission for the category must be in “a predominantly non-English” language.

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Ava DuVernay took to Twitter to voice her concern over the decision.

“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,” DuVernay tweeted Monday afternoon. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”

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The film’s director, Genevieve Nnaji, followed up with some posts of her own.

“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 posted.

“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.”