The hope of an African film winning the Best International Feature Film (IFF) award (formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film) at the forthcoming Oscar Awards was once again dashed as all films submitted from the continent for the category have failed to make the 15-film pre-nomination shortlist.
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) yesterday Tuesday December 21, 2022, announced the 15-film shortlist for the IFF category, excluding all the 10 films of African origin submitted.
The IFF Award is presented annually by the Academy to a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States and which contains 50 percent or more of non-English dialogue.
The Academy listed the films that made the shortlist ahead of the February 8, 2022 nominations to include:
- Austria, “Great Freedom”
- Belgium, “Playground”
- Bhutan, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”
- Denmark, “Flee”
- Finland, “Compartment No. 6”
- Germany, “I’m Your Man”
- Iceland, “Lamb”
- Iran, “A Hero”
- Italy, “The Hand of God”
- Japan, “Drive My Car”
- Kosovo, “Hive”
- Mexico, “Prayers for the Stolen”
- Norway, “The Worst Person in the World”
- Panama, “Plaza Catedral”
- Spain, “The Good Boss”
The 10 films submitted by African filmmakers but failed to make the shortlist are: Djaâfar Gacem’s ‘Heliopolis’ (Algeria), Ngang Romanus’ ‘Hidden Dreams’ (Cameroon), Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s ‘Lingui, The Sacred Bonds’ (Chad), Ayten Amin’s ‘Souad’ (Egypt), Gilbert Lukalia’s ‘Mission to Rescue’ (Kenya)
Others include Gift Sukez Sukali’s ‘Fatsani: A Tale of Survival’ (Malawi), Nabil Ayouch’s ‘Casablanca Beats’ (Morocco), Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s ‘The Gravedigger’s Wife’ (Somalia), Amy Jephta’s ‘Barakat’ (South Africa), and Abdelhamid Bouchnak’s ‘Golden Butterfly’ (Tunisia).
For Nollywood, however, this has turned out to be yet another bad, if not embarrassing year since it began submitting works to represent Nigeria on films’ biggest night, globally.
Nigeria had achieved a first-time feat at the Academy last year with the country’s submission, ‘The Milkmaid’ by Desmind Ovbiagele, ratified by the Executive Committee of the IFF, having passed the eligibility rule test but dropped out of the race at the first shortlist category.
After calling for submissions in late September this year, the Nigeria Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) had a month later announced cancellation of plans towards the country’s participation at the 2022 Oscars.
Chairperson of NOSC, Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi, in a letter addressed to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), expressed regret that the Committee could not continue with the selection process for this season, citing eligibility issues of films received as a major concern.
Asides the non-English dialogue prerequisite, eligibility requires accurate English subtitles, streaming or theatrical release for at least seven consecutive days in the country of origin, between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021.
However, while the decision of the NOSC might have absolved the body of any faults, unlike in 2019 when it submitted Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, which was eventually disqualified by the Academy, this year’s no-show outing clearly reveals Nollywood’s unpreparedness in going after the ultimate prize that the Oscar award represents.
The 94th Oscars will be held on Sunday March 27, 2022 and will be televised live on ABC.