Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ has been selected by the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) to represent the country in the International Feature Film category of the 2020 Oscars.
The group announced the selection on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, following a statutory vetting and subsequent voting of entries received from Nigerian filmmakers at home and in the Diaspora.
Since the inauguration of the NOSC in 2014, this is the first time Nigeria is advancing a film to the Oscar, as previous entries received by the committee did not meet basic criteria.
Among the films received this year, the NOSC said it picked ‘Lionheart’ for its considerable shots at the rules.
The 12-man team boasts of notable Nigeria’s film industry stakeholders of international standing; chaired by Chineze Anyaene, Producer and Director of ‘Ije,’ and foremost filmmaker and Chairman of the Audio-Visual Rights Society (AVRS) of Nigeria, Mahmood Ali-Balogun as Vice Chairman.
According to Anyaene, entries received this year show significant improvements from the previous years.
“While we cannot say that what we have are the best that Nigeria is capable of producing, it is heart-lifting to know that, from the strength of the entries received this year, we are truly ready for the Oscars. Filmmakers are gradually considering the Oscar rules, and I have no doubt that it is going to be more competitive, going forward,” she said.
Every year, each country outside the United States is expected to submit one film as long as it’s not primarily in English. Films in pidgin, which must be subtitled like any other language film are also considered under this category.
‘Best Foreign Language Film’ as it was formerly called, 87 countries vied for the shortlisted slots last year, and from a final five Oscar nominations, ‘Roma’, a Mexican film directed by Alfonso Cuarón bagged the award.
Lionheart was produced by Chinny Onwugbenu, Chichi Nwoko, Genevieve Nnaji, and directed by Genevieve Nnaji. It premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and was acquired on September 7, 2018, as first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria.
It was officially released in Nigeria in December 2018 and worldwide in January 2019.
The film stars Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo .O. Kanayo, Chika Okpala, Kalu Ikeagwu, Sanni Mu’azu, Yakubu Mohammed, Ngozi Ezeonu, Peter Okoye (P-Square), and Chibuzor Azubuike (Phyno).
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