The Academy International feature disqualifies The 2018 movie ‘Joy’ directed and written by Sudabeh Mortezai which was submitted for the Best International Feature OSAR this year after the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences determined the film did not meet eligibility requirements of a submitted film being predominantly foreign language.
The movie ‘Joy’ revolves around the world of Nigerian commercial sex workers in vienna, mixes Pidgin English and German. The plot tells of a young Nigerian woman who walks the street to pay off debts while supporting her family in Nigerian and her daughter in Vienna. It further talks about the vicious cycle of Nigerian sex trafficking.It was formerly selected as the Austrian entry for the Best International Feature film at the 92nd Academy Awards.
In a statement issued on Monday by The Academy, they explained their decision saying:”As we do every year , the Academy is in the process of reviewing the films submitted for the International Feature Film category to determine whether they meet our eligibility rules.The film ‘Joy’ submitted by Austria , was just reviewed and is ineligible because only 33% of the dialogue is non-English”.
This is the second movie that has in recent time been disqualified for same reason. A week ago, Genevieve Nnaji’s movie ‘Lionheart’ was also disqualified from the Best International Feature Film category of Oscar because of too much English dialogue. ‘Lionheart’ also has a Nigerian story line and was Nigeria’s first ever entry to the Oscars. It seems films from Nigeria or films about Nigerians cant impress the Oscars. The Academy responded in like manner to ‘Lionheart’ movie. The Co-chair person of the selection committee said if submitting for something as important as an Academy Award , one should look at the rules.
Sunabeh Mortezai’s ‘Joy’ and Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ are stories with Nigerian plots . This news is viewed by many as a spite against Nigeria as a nation and the Nigerian movie industry. The rules that guards the selection are man-made and can be interpreted either way they choose. Most people argue that the reason for which the Award name was changed is contradictory seeing that English Language is Nigeria’s Official language. The struggle to be accepted within the global space is overwhelmed by our diversity as a nation.A Nigerian film director in response to ‘lionheart’ being disqualified said it only tells that Nigerian movie industry needs to seat up.
Reacting to Hollywood Reporter’s tweet , American filmmaker Ava Duvernay took to social media as she had done with the news of ‘Lionheart’ movie to criticize the Academy’s decision to disqualify the film ‘Joy’. She said,’Another one. How about letting countries submit the film they feel best represents its cinematic work in any given year? I’m really asking. There has to be a good reason for not. I want to understand,@TheAcademy.I know when the no English rule originated . But why? Please share.”
If you have watched both movies you would notice that they both portray the challenges Nigerian women face. all economic class can relate to these movies.They are relatable in the sense that they understand the challenges a typical Nigerian woman faces, the hardship, the financial struggles and expectation,the battle of the sexes and courage to prove your worth as a woman in a male populated industry. In general most feminist will appreciate both movies. Some people are of the opinion that the movies were disqualified because the story lines were centered on the female gender.
In all the international market will want to know what is so special about these Nigerian movies and would watch them, thereby increasing live streaming on Netflix and ticket sales in Cinemas.