The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) has picked Genevieve Nnaji’s 2018 film Lionheart to represent Nigeria at the Oscars in 2020.
After a careful vetting of recently released Nigerian films, the committee selected Lionheart and submitted it to compete for the Best International Film Category of the Oscars. The film has made history as the first Nigerian film to be considered for an Oscar.
For a foreign film to meet the requirements for an Oscar consideration, it must have an approved Oscar selection committee in its home country. Furthermore, the film has to be in a language asides from English. Foreign films which are completely in English cannot be considered for this category.
The National Oscars Selection Committee made the announcement about the selection on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
The chairman of the NOSC noted that the entries for this year are a significant step up from the previous years.
“While we cannot say that what we have are the best 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 taking the Oscar rules into consideration, and I have no doubt that it is going to be more competitive, going forward,” she said.
Lionheart was produced by Chinny Onwugbenu, Chichi Nwoko, Genevieve Nnaji, and directed by Genevieve Nnaji. After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2018, it was acquired by Netflix, making it the first Netflix Original Film from Nigeria.
Lionheart features Nollywood heavyweights including Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo .O. Kanayo, Chika Okpala, Kalu Ikeagwu, Sanni Mu’azu, Yakubu Mohammed, Ngozi Ezeonu. It also includes special appearances by music stars Peter Okoye (P-Square), and Chibuzor Azubuike (Phyno).
Following its December 2018 debut across Nigerian cinemas, Lionheart was released worldwide on January, 2019. The film tells the story of a young woman Adaeze Obiagu (Genevieve Nnaji), who is saddled with the responsibility of saving her father’s business after he becomes ill.
Reacting to the announcement by the NOSC, Genevieve Nnaji took to Instagram to write:
“The Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee has chosen @lionheartthemovie to represent Nigeria for the 2020 Academy Award for Best International Film!
“This is the first entry ever for Nigeria. It’s an honour to be a part of such a pivotal moment in the history of Nigerian cinema.
“A moment we know will be replicated as our stories continue to resonate with audiences around the world”
“On behalf of the entire LIONHEART team and TEN Productions, we are grateful for this recognition and proud to carry the torch. Thank you all for the love and support thus far,” she wrote.
Lionheart may compete for the Best International Film Award alongside films from over 80 other countries. 5 films will be selected as finalists and only one film will win the award. Last year, Roma, a Mexican film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, emerged winner.