After ‘Lionheart’, a movie about Nigerian sex workers has been disqualified from the 2020 Oscars

Joy is a movie about Nigerian sex workers living in Vienna (screendaily)
  • Last week, there was an uproar after Nigeria’s entry “Lionheart,” directed by Nollywood icon Genevieve Nnaji, was disqualified by the Academy from the 2020 Oscar race.
  • This week, its Austria’s entry “Joy” — a movie about Nigerian sex workers living in Vienna — that is facing the same fate.
  • Both films have been rejected for the same reason.

Another movie bites the dust as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences disqualifies “Joy” from the Best International Feature Film category,

After a customary review process, the Academy, popularly known as “The Oscars,” found that two-thirds of the dialogue in Austria’s entry is in English.

Like Nigeria’s “Lionheart”, this movie violates the organisation’s rule which states that “a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America” must have “a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”

As such, ”Joy” made in Nigerian Pidgin with German subtitles has been deemed ineligible for the 2020 Oscars.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy said, “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 Austrian selection committee was notified of the Academy’s verdict on Monday, November 11, 2019.

About "Joy"

Written and directed by Austrian-Iranian filmmaker Sudabeh Mortezai, the movie tells the story of a young Nigerian sex worker caught in the vicious cycle of sex trafficking. She is forced to work the streets to pay off her debts and support her family.

It was mostly shot in Vienna with the first and the last scene done in Benin City, the capital of Edo state in Nigeria.

The lead is played by Nigerian-born actress Joy Anwulika Alphonsus. She is supported by Mariam Sanusi and Angela Ekeleme.

The movie premiered September 3, 2018, at the Venice Film Festival where it won two major prizes. It also won the Best Film award at the BFI London Film Festival and the top prize at the Marrakesh film festival in Morocco.


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