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Ava DuVernay slams the Academy for rejecting a Nigerian film from Oscar consideration

The filmmaker is one of several voices championing Nigerian director Genevieve Nnaji and questioning the Academy’s reason for disqualifying ‘Lionheart.’

Ava DuVernay slams the Academy for rejecting a Nigerian film from Oscar consideration

What: The decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to deem Nigerian film Lionheart ineligible for Oscar consideration.

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Who: Filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Genevieve Nnaji.

Why we care: Lionheart is, by most accounts, a charming, well-made film about a woman battling the corporate patriarchy upon taking over a company from her ailing father. It’s also Nigeria’s first submission for the Best International Feature Film Oscar—or at least it would have been, had the Academy not deemed it inadmissible. The reason? The film does not have a sufficient proportion of foreign language in its dialogue. (It’s almost entirely in English, save for about 10 minutes of Igbo.)

Members from the filmmaking community are now speaking out against the decision, including, most prominently, The 13th and Central Park Five director Ava DuVernay.

As mentioned in DuVernay’s tweet above, the Academy’s reasons for banning the film from Oscar contention seem misguided since English is the official language in Nigeria, a former British colony. Furthermore, the Academy has recently changed the title of the category in question from Best Foreign Language Film to Best International Feature Film, because the word “foreign” seemed so outdated in a global filmmaking community.

For her part, Nnaji was thankful for the assist from DuVernay. She tweeted out her thanks, along with further comments on why her film deserves eligibility.

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Fast Company will continue to monitor the situation and update this story if the Academy ends up reversing its decision.

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