2016 Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film Award: Where Is The Nigerian Representative?

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Oscars logoIf you go to the awards section on the THR website, it is littered with news of several countries’ submissions for the Best Foreign Language category at the 2016 Oscars. So far, about 60 countries have submitted their entries for the highly coveted award and critics are already forecasting which movies will make the final cut.

All these beg the question: where is the Nigerian nomination?

Earlier in the year, the Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee (NOSC) called for entries, and interested applicants were to submit their films between June 16 and July 6, 2015. By my calculations, it has been 10 weeks since that deadline, so I can’t help but wonder why the no official announcement as to the nominee has been made. It is especially worrying when you consider that all countries are expected to have submitted their nominations in less than a week from now.

In a press release, the chairman of the NOSC, Chineze Anyaene, had earlier in the year hinted at Nigeria possibly not submitting any film this year. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise seeing as the country failed to be represented last year as well. The official announcement then was that no film was eligible for submission.

“What matters to the committee is the selection and submission of works that best represent the country, and not just to be counted among the countries with entries at the Oscar,” Anyaene said.

All things considered, it is a very sound argument. The problem however is that if we aren’t submitting any film, then an official announcement should be made to that effect. Keeping the rest of the country in the dark is really no way to go about it.

Also, if no films are going to be representing Nigeria for the second year in a roll, it begs the question, what really is wrong? Is it that we are not making films good enough for the international community/market?

I personally do not agree with that sentiment. The past year has witnessed the release of quite a few impressive movies, but few-if any- come close to matching the critical acclaim that came with C.J Obasi’s Ojuju. If any Nollywood film stands a chance at the Best Foreign Language category, I think it is Ojuju. There are however two reasons the film might not make the cut.

First is that the category is best foreign language film, which means the film must be set in a language other than English. Secondly, the rules state that an eligible film must have been publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theatre, for the profit of the producer and exhibitor. Ojuju’s eligibility relies heavily on whether or not both these questions can be answered to the affirmative.

Until an official statement is made by the NOSC, we can only keep our fingers crossed and hope they come up with something.

Which movies released between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 do you think is worthy of representing Nigeria at the Oscars? Share your opinions with us in the comment section below.