By Vanessa Obioha
The Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC) for the Best International Feature Film (IFF) category at the Oscars has announced the departure of its Founder and Chairperson, Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi. Anyaene-Abonyi’s decision to step down from the committee comes shortly after securing the Oscars’ re-approval of the NOSC. This announcement comes as Nigeria and the global community gear up for the 96th edition of the Academy Awards scheduled for next year.
In a statement released by the NOSC, it boldly asserts that under Anyaene-Abonyi’s two-term steadfast leadership, the committee has transformed into a beacon of hope and a standard that befits Nigerian filmmakers aiming to compete in the IFF category at the Oscars.
The NOSC faced criticism last year for its failure to submit a film to the Oscars. This led to calls by a few individuals for Anyaene-Abonyi’s removal from the committee. In 2012, following her unsuccessful attempt to submit her own film for Oscars’ consideration, Anyaene-Abonyi embarked on the demanding task of securing recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for the NOSC.
“This discovery fueled my determination to create and personally finance a committee for Nigerian films to compete at this prestigious level of international cinema.”
In 2019, the committee received re-approval, and the NOSC submitted Genevieve Nnaji’s “Lionheart,” which was subsequently disqualified due to its failure to meet the non-English dialogue criteria.
Later on, the Academy yielded to Anyaene-Abonyi’s persistent demand for the inclusion of Pidgin English as a recognized non-English language. Consequently, on October 16, 2020, Pidgin English was acknowledged as a language suitable for the IFF category.
In 2021, Desmond Ovbiagele’s “The Milkmaid” made history as the first Nigerian film to receive approval from the Academy to compete in the IFF category at the 93rd Academy Awards, though it did not make the final shortlist.
As Anyaene-Abonyi hands over the reins to a new team, the NOSC regards this transition as the end of an era marked by an unwavering commitment to standards, professionalism, and remarkable achievements.
“In recent years, NOSC’s mission evolved from merely submitting films to promoting and fostering the creation of high-quality Nigerian film entries. The focus shifted towards encouraging a collaborative effort within the industry, where personal interests were set aside for the greater good of the Nigerian Film Industry,” Anyaene-Abonyi stated.
She expressed confidence in the next team’s ability to carry on the legacy and ensure that the quality and excellence of Nigerian films are prioritised.