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Oscars embroiled in first race row of 2020 as Academy bans Genevive Nnaji’s Lion Heart

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The Oscars is already embroiled in its first race row of the season as it bans Nigeria’s film submission – because it’s in English.
The Academy has disqualified Nigeria’s film from the Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay , 47, has spoken out against the submission axing and publicly voiced her complaint to The Oscars.
Films in this category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”, however, Lionheart is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo language.
Ava slammed the disqualification and pointed out that English happens to be the official language of Nigeria on account of its history as a British colony.
The American filmmaker shared her frustration with her 2.3 million followers.
She wrote: “To The Academy, you disqualified Nigeria’s first-ever submission for Best International Feature because its in English.
“But English is the official language of Nigeria. Are you barring this country from ever competing for an Oscar in its official language?”
Lionheart was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Nigeria and director Genevieve Nnaji said the film represented how Nigerians communicate. Nnaji thanked Ava for her support and announced on Twitter : “Thank you so much Ava. I am the director of Lionheart.
“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us one Nigeria.”
The director continued: “It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”
According to The Wrap , The Academy announced the disqualification to voters in the category in an email on Monday
The film was scheduled to screen for voters on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, but it’s viewing has now been cancelled. Nnaji thanked Ava for her support and announced on Twitter : “Thank you so much Ava. I am the director of Lionheart.
“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us one Nigeria.”
The director continued: “It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”
According to The Wrap , The Academy announced the disqualification to voters in the category in an email on Monday
The film was scheduled to screen for voters on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, but it’s viewing has now been cancelled.
Nnaji thanked Ava for her support and announced on Twitter : “Thank you so much Ava. I am the director of Lionheart.
“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us one Nigeria.”
The director continued: “It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”
According to The Wrap , The Academy announced the disqualification to voters in the category in an email on Monday
The film was scheduled to screen for voters on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, but it’s viewing has now been cancelled.
Nnaji thanked Ava for her support and announced on Twitter : “Thank you so much Ava. I am the director of Lionheart.
“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us one Nigeria.”
The director continued: “It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”
According to The Wrap , The Academy announced the disqualification to voters in the category in an email on Monday
The film was scheduled to screen for voters on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, but it’s viewing has now been cancelled.
Nnaji thanked Ava for her support and announced on Twitter : “Thank you so much Ava. I am the director of Lionheart.
“This movie represents the way we speak as Nigerians. This includes English which acts as a bridge between the 500+ languages spoken in our country; thereby making us one Nigeria.”
The director continued: “It’s no different to how French connects communities in former French colonies. We did not choose who colonized us. As ever, this film and many like it, is proudly Nigerian.”
According to The Wrap , The Academy announced the disqualification to voters in the category in an email on Monday
The film was scheduled to screen for voters on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, but it’s viewing has now been cancelled. Lionheart, which is currently streaming on Netflix , is about a Nigerian woman trying to keep her father’s company going in a society dominated by men.
Lionheart, which is currently streaming on Netflix , is about a Nigerian woman trying to keep her father’s company going in a society dominated by men.
Oscar’s Trivia
Oldest to win Best Director
The star of films like “The Magnificent Seven” (1960) and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966), Clint Eastwood was 74 years old when he won the Oscar for the “Million Dollar Baby” in 2005. Eastwood is also the only person to produce, direct and star in two Best Picture winners – “Unforgiven” (1992) and “Million Dollar Baby.
Films that won the most acting awards
No one film has ever won the quartet of acting Oscars – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The closest any has ever come is “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951; Marlon Brando missed the Best Actor award) and “Network” (1976; Ned Beatty lost in the Best Supporting Actor category).
Most wins in a single year
The record for most Oscars won in a single year is held by Walt Disney. He took home four statuettes from the 26th annual awards in 1953 – Best Documentary (Feature) for “The Living Desert,” Best Documentary (Short Subject) for “The Alaskan Eskimo,” Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for “Toot, Whistle, Punk and Boom” and Best Short Subject (Two-Reel) for “Bear Country.”
Disney also holds the record for most nominations and wins by an individual (living or dead) – 59 and 22, respectively.
Most nominated individual (living)
Music composer John Williams, whose impressive body of work includes “Jaws” (1975), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Schindler’s List” (1993) and, most recently, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017), has 51 nominations to his name. Williams has won five Academy Awards – for “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971), “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Schindler’s List.”
Most appearances in Best Picture winners
American character actor William Smith (known as Franklyn Farnum, L) may have never won an individual acting Oscar, but he does go down in history as having appeared in the most number Best Picture-winning movies – eight. Farnum was in “ The Life of Emile Zola” (1937), “Going My Way” (1944), “The Lost Weekend” (1945), “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947), “All About Eve” (1950), “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952), “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956) and “The Apartment” (1960).
Most appearances in Best Picture nominations
Born in Sherman, Texas, U.S., Bess Flowers appeared in 25 Best Picture-nominated films, starting with “It Happened One Night” in (1934). Five of those 25 – “It Happened One Night,” “You Can’t Take It with You” (1938), “All About Eve” (1950), “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952) and “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956) – won the award.
Longest gap between appearances in Best Picture winners
Acclaimed English actor Christopher Lee went 55 years between his two appearances in movies that won Best Picture. The first was “Hamlet” (1948) and the second “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003, pictured).
Family members in Best Picture winners
English actress Rachel Kempson (pictured) is at the head of an acting dynasty that includes six-time Academy Award nominee Vanessa Redgrave.
Kempson appeared in “Tom Jones” (1963) and “Out of Africa” (1985), both of which won Best Picture. Following in her footsteps, all three of her children were also in Best Picture winners – Lynn Redgrave was in “Tom Jones,” and Corin Redgrave and Vanessa were in “A Man for All Seasons” (1966).
Every film nominated
John Cazale only ever acted in only five movies. Those five, however, were “The Godfather” (1972, 10 nominations and three wins, including Best Picture), “The Conversation” (1974, three nominations, including Best Picture), “The Godfather: Part II” (1974, 11 nominations and six wins, including Best Picture and Best Director), “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975, six nominations and one win) and “The Deer Hunter” (1978, nine nominations and five wins, including Best Picture and Best Director).
First family to win across generations
Led by Walter Huston (Best Supporting Actor for “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)), the family won Academy Awards across three generations. Huston’s son John won Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and his daughter, Anjelica, won Best Supporting Actress for “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985).
The Coppolas
The second family to claim Oscars across three generations, the winning streak started with Carmine Coppola winning an award for Original Dramatic Score for “The Godfather: Part II” (1974). His son, Francis Ford Coppola won the first of his five Oscars in 1971 – Best Writing, Story and Screenplay for “Patton.” Francis Ford’s daughter – Sofia Coppola – then won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay for “Lost in Translation” in 2004.
The family can also claim a fourth Oscar-winning member in Nicolas Cage (who is Sofia’s cousin), who won Best Actor for “Leaving Las Vegas” (1995).
Brothers with acting nominations
River and Joaquin Phoenix are the only brothers to be nominated for acting Oscars. River was nominated in 1988 for “Running on Empty.” Joaquin has three -“Gladiator” (2000, pictured), “Walk the Line” (2005) and “The Master” (2012).
Only sisters to win acting Oscars
Joan Fontaine (L) won Best Actress for “Suspicion” (1941). Olivia de Havilland won the same award twice – for “To Each His Own” (1946) and “The Heiress” (1949).
Only couples to win Oscars for lead roles
Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh are the only married couple to win acting Oscars. Olivier won Best Actor for “Hamlet” (1948) and Leigh Best Actress for “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951); she also won the same award for “Gone with the Wind” (1939), but that was before her marriage.
The only other couple to come close is Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; Newman won for “The Color of Money” (1986) and Woodward for “The Three Faces of Eve” (1957). However, the latter’s win was before their marriage in 1958.
Only female director to win
In the history of the Academy Awards, only five women have been nominated for Best Director – Lina Wertmüller for “Seven Beauties” (1975), Jane Campion for “The Piano” (1993), Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation” (2003), Kathryn Bigelow (pictured) for “The Hurt Locker” (2008) and Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird” (2017).
Bigelow is the only woman to have won the award; she beat ex-husband James Cameron, who was nominated for “Avatar,” to the award in 2009.
Consecutive acting awards
Only five actors have ever won the same award in consecutive years. The first to do so was Luise Rainer, who won Best Actress Oscars for “The Great Ziegfield” (1936) and “The Good Earth” (1937).
She was followed by Spencer Tracy who won Best Actor for “Captains Courageous” (1937) and “Boys Town” (1938). Katharine Hepburn won Best Actress for “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967) and “The Lion in Winter” (1968).
Jason Robards won Best Supporting Actor nods for “All the President’s Men” (1976) and “Julia” (1977) and Tom Hanks won Best Actor awards for “Philadelphia” (1993) and “Forrest Gump” (1994).
The only brother-sister pair to win acting Oscars is Lionel Barrymore (Best Actor for “A Free Soul” (1931)) and Ethel Barrymore (Best Supporting Actress for “None But the Lonely Heart” (1944)).
Only X-rated Best Picture winner
Director John Schlesinger’s “Midnight Cowboy” (1969).
Country with most Foreign Language Film wins
Italy – 11 wins and three Special/Honorary Awards from 28 nominations.
Biggest winners
“Ben-Hur” (R, 1959), “Titanic” (L, 1997) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) have each won 11 Oscars, from 12, 14 and 11 nominations, respectively.
Posthumous wins by actors
Heath Ledger (R) and Peter Finch are the only actors to be awarded an Academy Award posthumously, for “The Dark Knight” (2008) and “Network” (1976), respectively.
One character, two Oscars
Marlon Brando (L) and Robert De Niro are the only actors to have won Oscars for the same character – that of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather Part II” (1974), respectively.
The first three-time Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis is the first to have won three Academy Awards for Best Actor.
Youngest and oldest Best Actors
At 29 years and 33 days, Adrien Brody (pictured) became the youngest to be given the Best Actor award; he won it for “The Pianist” (2002).
At the age of 76 years and 317 days, Henry Fonda became the oldest to be presented the same award; he won it for “On Golden Pond” (1981).
Youngest and oldest Best Actresses
Jessica Tandy won the award for “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), when she was 80 years and 292 days old.
At the other end of the spectrum, Marlee Matlin won Best Actress for “Children of a Lesser God” (1986, her movie debut), at the age of 21 years and 218 days.
Frontrunners in the category include South Korea’s Parasite, Spain’s Pain and Glory and France’s Les Miserables.
The Best Foreign Language Oscar was first awarded in 1956, and the name of the recognition changed in 2019 to Best International Feature Film.

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