Oscar 2021: Academy ‘approves Nigerian Pidgin English as foreign language’

The Nigeria Official Selection Committee For the Academy Awards Submissions says the Oscars has approved Nigerian Pidgin English as a non-English (Foreign language) recording dialogue in films.

Chineze Anyaene, the chairperson of the committee, who announced this on Saturday, said the request for approval began in December 2019.

She said she visited the Academy’s office in Los Angeles in February 2020 where she met with representatives of the International Feature Film (IFF) Executives.

She added that the outcome of the meeting was wider consultation with the IFF executives; ensuring approval is benchmarked and consistent with their screening matrix.

Ms Anyaene, who has then been having a series of conversations with the Academy to secure quicker approval as the 93rd Oscars was fast approaching.

Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Oscar contention was Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ movie. However, the film fell short in terms of spoken language and was struck out of the Oscar race.

In its response, the Nigeria Official Selection Committee acknowledged that ‘Lionheart’ departed from the requirement that contenders feature “a predominantly non-English dialogue track’’.

The 95-minute comedy is mostly in English, with a short section in the Igbo language.

Ms Anyaene explained that with every submission in the International Feature Category this year, the minutes and percentage of all individual languages in the country-selected film will be required by the Academy.

In addition, this is in line with the Academy’s rule and definition of an international film as “a feature film with a predominantly (more than 50%) non-English dialogue track.
This approval as secured by the NOSC is a new feat for the industry and It is untrue if any other individual or entity claims such achievement as this is beyond mere writing to the Academy without knowing the approval intricacies, she noted.

Following the approval, she said the NOSC might consider re-opening the portal for submission, which was closed at 11:59pm on October 2, to allow over five other filmmakers with Pidgin English films to submit their films.

She affirmed that this would only be a one-time opportunity as individual countries have their respective deadlines, which is always earlier to accommodate other processes so as not to miss the Academy’s deadline slated for December 1, 2020.

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