Only two Nigerian films have been submitted for consideration in the 94 ceremonies that have taken place over the years. Lionheart (2018), directed by Genevieve Nnaji, was nominated for the 92nd event but was disqualified due to excessive English language, and The Milkmaid (2020), directed by Desmond Ovbiagele, was nominated for the 93rd ceremony but was not nominated.
The Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC), which is in charge of picking the film that will officially represent Nigeria in the International Feature Film (IFF) category of the Academy Awards, has now invited filmmakers to submit their work between September and October 2021. Looking at some of the fan favorites, box office hits, and multi-film festival winners, are there any Nigerian films worthy of an Academy Award nomination?
In terms of fan favorites, these are films that have received hundreds and millions of views from various streaming sites, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others. Amina, Fine Wine, Swallow, Day of Destiny, and One Lagos Night are examples of films in this genre.
Christmas in Miami (N134.4m), Ghost And The Tout Too (N134.4m), Prophetess (N131m), My Village People (N100m), Aki And Paw Paw (N92m), Ayinla (N91m), Breaded Life (N88m), Bad Comments (N66m), Sole (N49m), and Dwindle are the top Nollywood films in 2021, according to FilmOne in a recent year book detailing Nollywood’s Box Office records (N43m).
Eyimofe (2020), Juju Stories (2021), Collision Course (2021), and numerous others are among the 2021 film festival favorites. Although Eyimofe was created in 2020, it was released in Nigeria in 2021, which may qualify it for submission.
The Oscars are well-known for nominating and honouring drama films that make an immediate and enduring influence on their audience and the governing board. The Academy is noted for attracting films that aim for overall quality in production rather than monetary success. That being said, with the exception of Ayinla, which is mostly a musical, 9 of the top ten films in Nollywood’s box office are all comedy flicks. It’s also general known that humor is the most popular and profitable genre in the Nigerian film business, which explains the abundance of comedy films in theaters.
Aside from the governing body’s somewhat inherent biased preferences in selecting films, the International Feature Film criteria specify unequivocally that films submitted must first be exhibited in theaters before any other kind of public display. “Films that receive a nontheatrical public exhibition or distribution before their first qualifying theatrical release, in any version, will not be eligible for Academy Award consideration.” (Subsection 3B of Rule Thirteen). As a result, Swallow, One Lagos Night, and Amina are all ineligible.However, according to the International Feature Film Award Special Rules, “country-selected films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available through a reputable commercial streaming distribution service or video on demand may qualify for Awards consideration in the International Feature Film category for the 94th Academy Awards under the following provisions: Documentation (original document(s) and an English translation) of government-mandated theatre/cinema shutdown dates, previously scheduled theatrical release dates, and streaming distribution or video on demand agreements must be provided to the Academy. Within 60 days after the film’s official selection, make it available on the encrypted Academy Screening Room member site. All other qualifying conditions must be met.
Many Nigerian films survive solely in Nigeria; yet, these films could not compete with many of The Academy’s nominees. Mostly because many Nigerian filmmakers are just concerned with monetary success. Despite the severe constraints imposed by the system, there are a few Nigerian films whose primary goal is to present a gripping tale in the most exquisite way possible.
After reviewing all of these possible films, Nigerians are left waiting to learn which Nigerian film was chosen and submitted by the Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC). The Academy Awards will unveil everything on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.