Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ Heads to the Oscars

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By Vanessa Obioha
The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) has picked Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ as the country’s submission to the International Feature Film category of the 2020 Oscars.
The group announced the selection today, following a statutory vetting and subsequent voting of entries received from Nigerian filmmakers at home and in the Diaspora.
‘Lionheart’ marks the first time Nigeria will be submitting a film to the Oscars since the inauguration of the NOSC in 2014. Previous entries received by the committee has failed to meet the basic criteria.
Chairman of the newly installed 12-man  committee, Chineze Anyaene in a statement said that entries received this year show significant improvement from  previous years.
“While we cannot say that what we have are the best that Nigeria is capable of producing, it is heart-lifting  to know that, from the strength of the entries received this year, we are truly ready for the Oscars. Filmmakers are gradually taking the Oscar rules into consideration, and I have no doubt that it is going to be more competitive, going forward,” she said.
Produced by Chinny Onwugbenu, Chichi Nwoko, Genevieve Nnaji, and directed by Genevieve Nnaji, ‘Lionheart’ premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and was acquired on September 7, 2018, as first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria.
The film stars Pete Edochie, Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo .O. Kanayo, Chika Okpala, Kalu Ikeagwu, Sanni Mu’azu, Yakubu Mohammed, Ngozi Ezeonu, Peter Okoye (P-Square) and Chibuzor Azubuike (Phyno).
Released worldwide on January 4, 2019 after a December 2018 theatrical release in Nigeria, ‘Lionheart’, which is Nnaji’s directorial debut, tells the story of a young woman, Adaeze Obiagu (Genevieve Nnaji), who becomes saddled with the responsibility of running her sick father’s business under the suffocating supervision of an uncle, played by Nkem Owoh.  Adaeze’s competing business instincts and family obligations become a catalyst for drastic change not everyone is ready to embrace.