Oscars, Academy Awards Nollywood films submitted

Dozens of films and actors have been nominated across categories with many of them waiting to be declared the best of the best at the glitzy ceremony tonight.

The awards aren’t exclusively Hollywood, and the International Feature Film category has served as an outlet for other films from across the world to compete for eyeballs and the honour of holding an Oscar award. Films in this category are pre-dominantly non-English and submitted by other film industries from all over the world.

Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood, isn’t left out and has made a play for the award a number of times. However, the industry has been unlucky as none of its submissions have ever made it to the shortlist of five for Oscars night.

Here’s a list of all the films that have ever been submitted by the Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) for the Academy’s consideration.

Genevieve Nnaji‘s family drama, Lionheart, made history in 2019 as the first Nigerian film submitted for the International Feature Film category for the 2020 Academy Awards. It was widely hailed as a turning point for Nollywood, finally ready to play on the big stage alongside other film industries from across the world.

However, The Academy disqualified the film because it failed the category’s dialogue criteria to be “predominantly non-English,” as only 11 minutes out of its 95-minute runtime was in the Igbo language. The disqualification was widely criticised, but failure to meet the requirement killed Lionheart’s chances of making the shortlist. South Korean black comedy thriller, Parasite, eventually won the category.

After the previous year’s disappointment, the NOSC was more careful in its selection for the 2021 Oscars and submitted Desmond Ovbiagele‘s The Milkmaid for the long list. The heart-wrenching film follows the survival of two sisters in a world of terrorists, with Hausa its predominant language.

However, The Milkmaid failed to make the Oscars shortlist, and the category was eventually won by Another Round, a submission by Denmark.

The NOSC failed to submit any films for the Oscars for 2022 and 2023, citing failure to meet qualification criteria as the main reason.

That changed in 2023 when the committee submitted CJ Obasi‘s Mami Wata. The fantasy film made history as the first Nollywood film to screen at Sundance and even won a special jury prize for its striking cinematography.

Despite its critical acclaim and many other global accolades, the film also failed to be nominated for the Oscars shortlist and won’t be in contention at tonight’s ceremony.

The international films shortlisted for the category and expecting to win include Io Capitano (Italy), Perfect Days (Japan), Society of the Snow (Spain), The Teachers’ Lounge (Germany), and The Zone of Interest (United Kingdom).

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