Rejection of Lionheart, a big lesson

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EXECUTIVE Secretary of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) Alhaji Adedayo Thomas has decried the exclusion of Nigeria’s actress Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart from the 2020 Oscar Academy Award’s shortlist.

Thomas blamed the lack of government involvement in the submission process, among others.

He noted that as painful as the rejection was, it would be an eye-opener for the country on the need for better coordination.

Thomas spoke in his office during a visit by representatives of the Culture, Art Tourism and Entertainment Writers Association (CATEWA) in Abuja.

He said: “From my perspective, first thing I will say is that whatever reasons they must have to drop Lionheart could be justified by them because they have every right to disqualify any film …

Lionheart was acquired by Netflix,  but they should have done research to know how many films Netflix submitted? If you have three to four films and you are going on competition, if you cannot avoid to give two or three films the necessary turning, then you are likely to fail.

“… festival awards of such level involve lobbying… Positions in high places around the world are not about the quality or brilliance. It is about lobbying.”

He added: “I think Netflix has not done justice to Lionheart. There were not enough lobbies.  Netflix have over 70 percent films censored in Nigeria. Does the Lionheart pass through necessary procedures before it went to Canada?  No. It was premiered in Canada without censorship and classification.

“You don’t insult your government or your country, the fault is from different angles but you can’t fault one person or group.

“It’s very painful but we must learn the politics of lobbying. It was not well prepared and it was very painful that Lionheart has to be dropped.”

The movie, which was premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix for worldwide distribution, is Nigeria’s first-ever submission to the Academy awards.

Nnaji stars with Pete Edochie and Nkem Owoh in the film, which she co-wrote with her producing partner, Chinny Onwugbenu.

Following the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science, “an international film is defined as a feature length motion picture (over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States with predominant non-English dialogue track”.

Lionheart has just 12 minutes of dialogue that is in Igbo language, while the rest 95 minutes feature in English. The exclusion of the film has continued to generate mixed reactions.

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