Dear Lion Heart,
You are a typical illustration of the Nigerian struggle. A clear example of why we deserve the kind of rulers and leaders we attract.
In all the noise about your Oscar disqualification story.
I do not see people taking responsibility for the mess they created.
I do not see people talking about what they ought to talk about.
We would rather shift the blame.
But first these are the names that should get the first floggings:
— Chineze Anyaene (Producer and Director of ‘Ije’)
— Mahmood Ali-Balogun (filmmaker and Chairman of Audio-Visual Rights Society (AVRS) of Nigeria)
— Bruce Ayonote (CEO of Legend Box Office)
— Mildred Okwo (filmmaker & talent manager)
— Shaibu Husseini (Journalist/Film Critic)
— Charles Novia (filmmaker/author),
— CJ Obasi (award-winning filmmaker)
— Ramsey Noah (debutant director and top actor)
— Adetokunbo ‘DJ Tee’ Odubawo (versatile director and cinematographer)
— Ngozi Okafor (movie producer)
— Chioma Ude (AFRIFF Founder)
— Abba Makama (director of Green-White-Green)
These are those that were picked to be in The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC). And Chineze Anyaene is the chairperson, and so who was really surprised that Lion Heart was picked by her team? Is that not the typical Nigerian system? You have a Northern leader as President and he makes his kinsmen a predominant force in the cabinet. The same goes for the Eastern leader, the Western and the Southern.
I remember being so confused that Lion Heart made the cut. For crying out loud, the film wasn’t an Oscar Definition for International Film. It wasn’t what the Oscars were looking for. And they defined what they wanted.
They wanted films like Mokalik but the corruption in us submitted Lion Heart to them. And the NOSC team are a bunch of brilliant people who definitely know how to read. Who definitely must have seen the definition on Wikipedia (assuming they didn’t get the mail).
“The Academy Award for Best International Feature Film (given as Best Foreign Language Film prior to 2020) is one of the Academy Awards handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track”
Kunle Afolayan’s Mokalik may not be a flashy movie, it may not be a big-budget movie, and also may not be without its sins (2 major sins were the forgivable and explainable bad acting from Simi and BBNaija’s Tobi Bakre). However, it was a good film and something the Oscars Academy would have appreciated.
The film was predominantly Yoruba in terms of language. It is an evergreen movie with a core Nigerian story. But I guess the NOSC people were looking for something else or they thought the Oscars Academy was another office in Nigeria they can break in with their own rules.
For me Lion Heart couldn’t even make my top 2 list. Not when there was a Kemi Adetiba’s King Of Boys. But…
Welcome to Nigeria.
And rather than just cover our faces in disappointment we are on the global media platforms fooling ourselves. Tweeting and posting like illiterates…
“I am the director of Lionheart. 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. 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” says Genevieve, the director of the movie.
Just hear how she now wants to politicize the matter. Forgetting the rules her film met on ground. Before Lion Heart, there was that rule. So why the political statement. Like who cares if you are making a film for One Nigeria. How many Edo actors do you have in the film? How many Kogi actors? How many Yoruba actors? So what exactly makes it a One Nigeria project?
Now I am not saying it should have featured a complete list of Nigeria’s tribes. I am just saying make your film the way you want but don’t blame Oscars when you don’t meet its requirement. Don’t do so in the name of One Nigeria.
Somebody else tweeted, “You disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because it’s in English. But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”
Just look at that!
This is how we behave.
I still enjoyed Chris Obi’s Living in Bondage. Kenneth Nnebue and Okechukwu Ogunjiofor did a good job with that film. Just go see the film on YouTube and understand if it doesn’t make sense. What’s difficult in making a film in any of our indigenous languages?
See films like The Man That Cut’s Tattoo and you will enjoy the Pidgin and Edo language. The ‘Locked Up’ series I am currently watching on NetFlix is done in a Spanish language I don’t understand but I enjoy the episodes so much so.
There’s something you just can’t take away from language films. That is why most Yoruba films seem to have better messages than the Nigerian English films. Although quality is another subject entirely.
So it is what it is.
Lion Heart is Disqualified Because It’s in English and although it is unmistakably Nigerian film, it doesn’t fit the bill. It fails to meet up with the complete requirement.
Oscar Academy says ‘the film does not meet the language requirement necessary for inclusion in the category since it was filmed mostly in English. Despite the film having some Igbo parts, an Academy rule—which states that films must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track” in order to be considered for the category—makes it ineligible’. And if Mokalik was submitted we just may have won that category. Rather than spitting lines against the Academy, we should go back and do the right thing.
This is why Africans don’t win the World Cup. This is the problem we see as well in our Football. We pick players based on so many sentiments and thanks to corruptible judges and coaches.
Your Lionless Heart spotter,
PS: Someone has to start speaking the truth about these things. It’s only a pity that some names are on that list of NOSC. Some good names that shouldn’t be there.