Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart is Nigeria’s ever submission to the Oscars

Chisom Ezugwu - A New Nigeria
Chisom Ezugwu - A New Nigeria

The jinx has been broken. Nigeria has an entry for the Academy Awards (Oscars) 2020.

We mean, at last, the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC), has for the first time since it was inaugurated in 2014 been able to submit a film to the Oscars.

And that film is Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, acquired by Netflix on 7th September 2019 as its first-ever Nollywood original. Lionheart was first screened to a world audience at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. However, it has its Nigerian cinema release on the 4th of January 2019.

The film stars 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 who is better known by his stage name, Phyno.

Lionheart was produced by Chinny Onwugbenu, Chichi Nwoko, Genevieve Nnaji, with Genevieve Nnaji also directing.

The film tells the story of Adaeze Obiagu (Genevieve Nnaji), a young woman who becomes saddled with the responsibility of running her family’s heavily indebted business following her father’s (Pete Edochie) life-threatening heart attack. Supervised by her uncle (Nkem Owoh), Adaeze’s competing business instincts and family obligations become a catalyst for drastic change not everyone is ready to embrace.

The NOSC announced the pick Wednesday 2nd October 2019.

The chairperson of the 12-person committee, Chineze Anyaene says of the selection:

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 have no doubt that it is going to be more competitive, going forward.

The Oscars is formerly known as the Academy Awards. The ceremony is organised annually by the USA’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership.

Lionheart’s entry is for the Best International Film Award formerly known as the Best Foreign Language Film. Last year, the category was won by Mexican’s Alfonso Cuarón for his film Roma, which beat competition from 86 other entries.

For meeting the criteria for entering at all, we think Nollywood did well. And we definitely believe this calls for a celebration! It is totally a landmark in the history of the Nigerian Nollywood Industry.

Congratulations, Genevieve Nnaji! Congratulations, Nigeria!



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