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Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart disqualified from Oscar consideration for having too much English dialogue

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The Academy has disqualified Nigeria’s “Lionheart” from the Oscar race in the Best International Feature Film category, dropping the number of films competing for the award to 92 from what had been a record 93 entries.

This year’s field is now tied with 2017’s as the largest in the category’s history. Since “Lionheart” was made by actress-turned-director Genevieve Nnaji, its disqualification drops the number of female directors in this year’s race to 28, which is still a category record.

It was the first film ever submitted to the Oscars by Nigeria.

“Lionheart,” in which Nnaji also stars, is partially in the Igbo language of Nigeria. But it is mostly in English, which violates an Academy rule that entries in the category must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

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The film had not been vetted by the Academy’s International Feature Film Award Executive Committee in advance of the Oct. 7 announcement of qualifying films but was recently viewed and determined not to qualify in a category that until this year was known as Best Foreign Language Film.

One other film, Afghanistan’s “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha,” had been deemed ineligible before the list of qualifying films was announced. It was denied a spot on the roster of contenders over questions about the legitimacy of the Afghan committee that submitted it.

The Academy announced the disqualification of “Lionheart” to voters in the category in an email on Monday. The film was scheduled to screen for Academy voters in the international category on Wednesday in a double bill with the Honduran entry, “Blood, Passion, and Coffee.” That film will now screen by itself at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.

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“Lionheart,” in which Nnaji plays a woman who tries to keep her father’s struggling company afloat in a male-dominated environment, is currently available on Netflix.

Frontrunners in the category include South Korea’s “Parasite,” Spain’s “Pain and Glory” and France’s “Les Miserables.”

LionHeart which is not excluded from entering other Oscar categories including consideration for best picture has just under 12 minutes of dialogue that is in the Igbo language native to Southeastern Nigeria, while the remaining 94-minutes is in English. With the disqualification, the number of films in contention for the award has dropped from 93 to 92.

However reacting to the disqualification on Twitter, Genevieve Nnaji wrote;

“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 #OneNigeria.”

She added,

“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.”

American filmmaker who directed the Netflix drama miniseries When They See Us, Ava DuVernay also reacted to the disqualification. She tweeted;

“To @TheAcademy, 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?”

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Bollywood, Nollywood good to work in, says Nigerian actress who broke into Indian film industry

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Nigerian actress, Kehinde Omisande, believes collaborations between the Nigerian film industry and their Indian counterpart will yield good fruits.

Omisande recently broke into Bollywood after she featured in a Netflix original, ‘Little Things’, an Indian movie.

Though she is yet to work in the Nollywood industry, the actress vowed to contribute her quota to its development.

She said,

“I can’t compare both because I haven’t worked in the Nigerian movie industry, but from what I have seen, I think I would prefer to work in my country home’s industry more just because I think it will be easier for me mostly because of the language.

“I don’t understand Hindu, which will make it a little bit hard for me, but all the same, I think both industries are good to work in. I have a better plan for both industries. I will do my best to contribute my quota to the industries. I am committed to impacting greatly to foster the industry especially that of my country by extending qualities that will improve the standard of the industry.”

Adding,

“I think there are a lot of opportunities. I have an example of someone who has made appearances here which shows that it is possible. I don’t know if it is up to me to foster synergy.

“Hopefully, the authorities or agents or whoever influences both sides can see. I hope it is possible. I think it should be. I will do my best in my way.”

On her challenges as a Nigerian in Bollywood, she said,

“As I said earlier, it should be a language barrier. Although in Bollywood movies, they speak the English language, Hindi is their main language. So, as a Nigerian in their midst, it has not been easy and if you watch ‘Little Things’ season three on Netflix, you would see that I spoke little Hindi and luckily for me, my siblings taught me some Hindi words when I came to India, so, when I see them on the script I know what they mean.”

The Nation

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Mercy Aigbe speaks on crushing on 2Baba, first encounter with Sola Sobowale

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Mercy Aigbe

Nigerian actress, director and businesswoman, Mercy Aigbe, has revealed her first encounter with Nollywood veteran, Sola Sobowale.

According to the 42-year-old, before she got into the industry, she admired Liz Benson and Sola Sobowale; the former for her beauty and the later for the way she interpreted her roles.

However, her first encounter with the Sobowale a.k.a Toyin Tomato ended in tears.

Recounting the first encounter she had with Sobowale, Aigbe said,

“Before I got into the industry, I admired Sola Sobowale because she knows her onions. One day, I got a call to come on set for a movie titled, ‘Ohun Oko So Mi Da’.

“The movie was produced by Aunty Sola and I was shivering when I got to the set. I asked myself, ‘Would I be able to act in the presence of my role model?’ I went to a corner and prayed to God and told myself, ‘This is my opportunity. I shouldn’t allow Aunty Sola overshadow me. I should let my star shine.’

“Unfortunately for me, in that particular scene, I wasn’t meant to talk at all. I acted the role of her husband’s secretary and was dating her husband. She came to my character’s house to warn her. I was not supposed to say anything but I thought that as an up-and-coming actress, she would just kill my ‘star’ if I didn’t say anything. Guess what I did. I gave myself lines. As she was ranting, I was reacting to her rants. When she held me, I put my hands inside her brassiere. She just told the director to end the scene at that point, asking where they found ‘this kind of girl’.”

The ‘77 Bullets’ actress also maintained that she learnt consistency and doggedness from her mother. She added,

“I learnt being dogged from my mum. She is a very strong woman, who never gives up. She is very consistent and hardworking. I believe that whatever one wants to do, one has to keep at it until one succeeds.”

Actress, Mercy Aigbe, has revealed that for a long time, she had a crush on ‘African Queen’ singer, 2baba (formerly 2face Idibia).

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Aigbe stated this during the week as a guest on Gbenga Adeyinka’s Instagram Live chat. After Adeyinka played ‘African Queen’ while on the video call, Aigbe said with a broad smile,

“Don’t tell anybody o. For a very long time, I had a crush on 2baba.”

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Bollywood actor Ranjit Chowdhry, who appeared in ‘The Office’ and ‘Prison Break’, dies at 65

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Famous Bollywood actor, Ranjit Chowdhry, who appeared in two episodes of “The Office and Prison Break has died at the age of 65.

According to local reports, the actor died on Wednesday at a Mumbai hospital after he travelled to his home country from the US several months ago.

Local theatre personality Dolly Thakore told the Orissa Post that Chowdhry suffered a ruptured ulcer on April 14 and was taken to a local hospital, where he died during surgery.

‘He got a ruptured ulcer in the intestine which happened April 14. A physician was called who said he needs to go to the hospital and he was taken to Breach Candy hospital. They operated on him but he died at the hospital yesterday at 4 in the morning,’ Dolly said.

Chowdhry first starred in Indian comedies of the late ’70s and early ’80s before moving to the US. He appeared in two episodes of The Office in season 5 of the NBC sitcom.

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In the United States Ranjit is best known for his appearance in Prison Break, Girls, and Law & Order as well as the Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah and the 1990 film Lonely in America among others.

Chowdhry, who has acted in films including ‘Khoobsurat’ and ‘Khatta Meetha’, died in the US on April 15. He was 65.

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His half-sister Raell Padamsee made the announcement on social media.

Chowdhry, who was the stepson of theatre personality Alyque Padamsee,  acted in films including ‘Khatta Meetha’ and ‘Baton Baton Mein’. He also worked with Deepa Mehta for her 2002 film ‘Bollywood/Hollywood’.

Rahul Khanna, who acted with him in ‘Bollywood/Hollywood’, tweeted:

“Despite his diminutive frame, he was a towering icon of Indian diaspora cinema and a master of his craft. By far, one of the most endearingly quirky and acerbically witty people i have had the pleasure of knowing.”

He was born in Mumbai and grew up with a theatre background. He was an outstanding character actor who could do justice to any role, no matter how quirky or brief.

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Acclaimed directors Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair have expressed their condolences and grief at the actor’s death. The remember him as a blazing, maverick talent.

According to a report in English daily, Nair intends to hold a tribute meeting for Chowdhry over Zoom as they are all amidst a coronavirus lockdown.

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