In 2019, the Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee put Nollywood on the spot when they selected Genevieve Nnaji’s Lions Heart as our first and official submission into the Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film. But it all came crashing down the moment the movie was tossed out of the shelves due to its lack of foreign language, literally.
This year, the selection committee called yet again for another round of submissions to be considered into the 2021 Oscar race and whereas it is unsaid what movies were submitted, I can’t help but bet my life that Kunle Afolayan’s Citation would be one of them.
Seeing that Citation was dominated with dialogues spoken rather flatly in three different languages other than English, it is hard not to see where they were going with it. And honestly, unless there is a Yoruba movie filmed in high definition with a mad ass over-the-top cinematography and intense method acting, Citation might just be our only and best option. But the big question is, is Citation truly Oscar worthy?
Let me be clear, even though the multiple languages used in the movie made it appear desperate for Oscar’s attention, they were nonetheless used in the right context; a university professor from a French speaking country lecturing International Relation master students and taking them on trips across border? Of course! More than one foreign language is bound to be spoken for a fact. But if we are going to be completely honest, it would take more than just speaking French and Portuguese to be able to nab an Oscar nomination; and don’t get me started on what it would take to win one.
As a movie freak and a fan of award seasons, I can tell you this; Citation may have successfully beaten the language mark for the Academy Award consideration, but it fell short of so many Academy Award elements. Take a look at the previous winners of that category; Parasite, Roma, A Fantastic Woman, Son of Saul. When you analyse the depth of the acting performances in these movies alongside the bold, yet, impactful choice of storylines that were drawn from diverse relatable angles of pain, loss and genuine human suffering, you will see that a movie where a lecturer almost raped a student would stand no chance. No chance at all. Unless other countries decide not to submit any movie this year, I don’t see how Citation would get a nomination.
But let us look at the bright side, Kunle Afolayan just successfully showed us all how to make an Oscar worthy Nigerian movie in terms of foreign language execution and with that, other filmmakers who dream of winning an Oscar could easily take on this same path without fearing a bomb at the box office, after all, no one has ever died from reading subtitles, at least not yet.
This article was written by Daniel U Anthony; connect with him on Instagram via here