The Oscars have Disqualified 'Joy', a Film about Nigerian Sex Workers, Submitted for Best International Feature Film

22 November 2019

Content - Film

Joy 328

Like Genevieve Nnaji's 'Lionheart', the film has reportedly been disqualified by the Academy because of too much English dialogue.

It seems films from Nigeria or films about Nigerians can't seem to catch a break at the Oscars. Just last week, Genevieve Nnaji's Lionheart was disqualified from the Best International Feature Film category of the Oscars because of too much English dialogue. The film was Nigeria's first ever entry to the Oscars—a historic moment. Similarly, Austrian filmmaker Sudabeh Mortezai's Joy, a film about Nigerian sex workers living in Vienna, has also been disqualified by the Academy in the same category, according to Deadline.

In a statement released 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."

The Academy's response echoes what they previously said about Nnaji's Lionheart. The co-chair of the selection committee, Larry Karaszewski, said, "If you're submitting for something as important as an Academy Award, I would think you should look at the rules." He added that while the name of the award category had been changed earlier this year from "Best Foreign-Language Film" to "Best International Feature Film", the rules had not changed.

However, many have argued that while the Academy claims the name change was for "diversity" reasons, their dismissal of Lionheart and now Joy, still functions on the premise that "foreign" must mean "non-English" despite English being the official language of Nigeria. The portrayal of Nigerian characters in Joy is characteristically Nigerian with pidgin English and Igbo making up a natural part of the film's dialogue. However, the Academy feels it is not enough. Watch the trailer below

Joy Trailer 328

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