The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) picked Genevieve Nnaji’s “Lionheart” as the country’s submission to the International Feature Film category of the 2020 Oscars.
The group announced the selection on Wednesday, following the vetting and voting of entries received from Nigerian filmmakers at home and in the diaspora.
“Lionheart” premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It was acquired on 7th September 2018, as the first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria. Chinny Onwugbenu was the producer, while Genevieve Nnaji directed it.
Released worldwide on 4th January 2019, after a December 2018 theatrical release in Nigeria, “Lionheart” is Nnaji’s directorial debut.
“Lionheart” tells the story of a young woman, Adaeze Obiagu (played by Genevieve Nnaji), who has to run her sick father’s business. Under the suffocating supervision of an uncle (Nkem Owoh), the unlikely pair save the company together.
The picking procedure
Since the 2014 inauguration of the NOSC, this is the first time Nigeria is advancing a film to the Oscars. Apparently, previous entries received by the committee did not meet basic criteria. Among the films received this year, the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee said it picked Genevieve’s “Lionheart” for its considerable shots at the rules.
According to Anyaene, a member of the NOSC board, the entries received this year show significant improvements. They are a lot better than the submissions from previous years.
“We cannot say that what we have are the best that Nigeria is capable of producing. However, it lifts hearts to know that, from the strength of the entries received this year, we are truly ready for the Oscars.
“Filmmakers are gradually taking the Oscar rules into consideration. I have no doubt that it is going to be more competitive, going forward,” she said.
Every year, each country outside the US submits 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.
Formerly called ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, 87 countries vied for the shortlisted slots last year. From a final five Oscar nominations, ‘Roma’, a Mexican film directed by Alfonso Cuarón then picked the honour.