Nigerian Pidgin now considered foreign language for Oscar Awards

The Nigerian Pidgin English has been accepted as a foreign language for the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars.

The Nigeria Official Selection Committee for the Academy Awards (NOSC) announced this on Saturday.

Chineze Anyaene, the chairperson of the committee, 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.

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.

In 2019, NOSC nominated ‘Lionheart’, a directorial debut movie of Nigerian actress, Genevieve Nnaji,, to represent the country at the 2020 Oscars in Los Angeles.

However, the movie, which is both in English, Pidgin and Igbo languages, was disqualified and said to have violated a rule that entries in the category must have a “predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

Reacting to the development, Nnaji had said: “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.

“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.”

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