According to The Wrap, Nigeria’s first-ever submission to the Best International Film category at the Oscars has been disqualified for being predominantly in English—which happens to be the official language of Nigeria. The film, Lionheart, was directed by Genevieve Nnaji (who also stars), and though it is “partially in the Igbo language,” the fact that it is mostly in English has rendered it ineligible for the Academy Awards due to a rule that probably makes more sense on paper than it does here in practice.
The Wrap story notes that the category used to be called Best Foreign Language Film up until this year, so the rule about not being in English does make a bit of sense in that context, but if they’re going to change the name of the category then it would make sense to also change odd rules that don’t matter. Ava DuVernay pointed out the ridiculousness of this on Twitter, asking the Academy if this ruling means that the country will never be able to submit a movie in its official language to the Oscars.
Vice, meanwhile, has a longer piece up about Nigeria’s growing film industry and the reason English is spoken there at all (which you can probably guess), and it references a tweet from Nnaji where she notes that the use of English “acts as a bridge” for the people of Nigeria to the “500+ languages” spoken in the country. Whatever happens at the Academy Awards, Lionheart is currently available on Netflix.