Netflix’s first original film produced in Nigeria, Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ has been selected as the country’s submission to the International Feature Film category of the 2020 Oscars.
The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC), chaired by Chineze Anyaene, announced the selection of ‘Lionheart’ on Wednesday following the vetting of entries from Nigerian filmmakers at home and in the Diaspora.
Anyaene, producer of ‘Ije’ said ‘Lionheart’ was picked for its considerable shots at the Oscars rules.
She said, “While we cannot say that what we have are the best that 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 do not doubt that it is going to be more competitive, going forward.”
Apart from being the first Nigerian movie to be acquired by Netflix, ‘Lionheart’ has also made history by becoming the first movie to be entered for the Oscar since the inauguration of the NOSC in 2014.
Previous entries received by the Committee also comprising filmmakers Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Mildred Okwo, Bruce Ayonote, Charles Novia and CJ Obasi did not meet the essential criteria. Other members of the recently reconstituted Committee are film critic, Shaibu Husseini; actor Ramsey Nouah; the cinematographer, Adetokunbo’ DJ Tee’ Odubawo; movie producer, Ngozi Okafor; AFRIFF founder, Chioma Ude and director of Green-White-Green, Abba Makama.
Written by Genevieve Nnaji, Chinny Onwugbenu, Ishaya Bako, Emil Garuba and C.J.Obasi, ‘Lionheart’ was Genevieve’s directorial debut. It premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and was acquired on September 7, 2018, as first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria.
The movie features Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Chika Okpala, Kalu Ikeagwu, Sanni Mu’azu, Yakubu Mohammed, Ngozi Ezeonu, Peter Okoye (P-Square) and Chibuzor Azubuike (Phyno).
It was released worldwide on January 4, 2019, after a December 2018 theatrical release in Nigeria and tells the story of a young woman, Adaeze Obiagu (Genevieve). When her father falls ill, Adaeze steps up to run the family business — alongside her uncle — and prove herself in a male-dominated world.
Previously called ‘Best Foreign Language Film’, the international film category is for countries outside the US which are expected to submit a movie not primarily done in English but fully sub-titled. 87 countries vied for the shortlisted slots last year and acclaimed Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, and editor, Alfonso Cuarón, won with his ‘Roma.’