In 2019, Nigeria’s first-ever entry for the international feature film Oscar category, “Lionheart”, the directorial debut movie of Genevieve Nnaji was disqualified from the Oscars as it predominantly features English dialogue, (95-minute movie with comedy and mostly in English, with a short sighted part in the Igbo language).

The disqualification was based on the Academy rules stating that “An international feature film is defined as a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.

The disqualification led to criticism from people: with some wondering “why the disqualification” since Nigeria’s official language is English, some people speculated it is a wakeup call for Nollywood to focus more on our indigenous languages, and others saying maybe it’s high time the Academy changed its rules, allowing “foreign films,” and not just “foreign language films.”

Here’s the great news: According to Premium Times, the Nigeria Official Selection Committee (NOSC) for the Academy awards submissions announced the approval of Nigerian Pidgin English as a non-English (Foreign language) recording dialogue in films by the Oscars.

The confirmation was made known by Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi, NOSC chairperson, via a press release containing details of the timeline of the committee’s progress.

According to Premium Times, “the request for approval began in December 2019, after which Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi visited the Academy’s office in Los Angeles in February 2020 where she met with representatives of the International Feature Film (IFF) Executives”.

She added that the outcome of the meeting was wider consultation with the IFF executives; ensuring approval is benchmarked and consistent with their screening matrix.

This is in line with the Academy’s rule and definition of an international film as “a feature film with a predominantly (more than 50%) non-English dialogue track”.

This approval as secured by the NOSC is a new feat for the industry and It is untrue if any other individual or entity claims such achievement as this is beyond mere writing to the Academy without knowing the approval intricacies.

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