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OSCARS: 5 reasons Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Anikulapo’ may have lost out; and problem with the Selection Committee



On October 3, 2022, Nigerian cinematographer and veteran actor, Kunle Afolayan, took to his Twitter page to shade the Omotola Jalade, Stephanie Linus and other members of the Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC) for the Oscars.

He stated that the world described his movie ‘ANIKULAPO’ as a “masterpiece”, but the Oscars Committee for Nigerian films said the Netflix-backed film wasn’t worth submitting for International Feature Film Award nomination consideration at the Oscars.

While ANIKULAPO isn’t the only movie rejected by the Nigerian Oscar Committee, with ELESIN OBA: The KING’S HORSEMAN” by the late Biyi Bandele and Femi Adebayo-produced “AGESINKOLE (KING OF THIEVES) also getting the boot, Afolayan’s feature film had been heavily tipped due to Netflix’s money bag behind it.

ANIKULAPO is one of Netflix Originals, which often attracts most nominations for the streaming company, having recorded 89 nominations in the last eight years. So, expectations were high, however, they were shattered by the NOSC.

With Afolayan’s statement stirring up debates as to why the Nigerian Oscar committee would snub ANIKULAPO, that has now been rated highly for its Cinematography, Setting, Casting, and not leaving out Dialogue, Ripples Nigeria looked into reasons Afolayan’s movie could have been dropped and what he and his cast lost due to the snub.

Reason ANIKULAPO could have been rejected

There have been talks about the rejection of ANIKULAPO by the NOSC, but attention has not been given to the reasons. Findings by Ripples Nigeria discovered an important Oscar movie nomination rule which Afolayan didn’t adhere to.

The movie, which was written by Shola Dada and received an impressive 7.2/10 vote from world’s leading movie rating site, IMDb, contravened the Oscars release policy, which states that a movie hoping to be considered for Oscars’ International Feature Film Award must be released at the Cinema/theatre first, before showing on streamers like Netflix and Television Stations.

Unfortunately, ANIKULAPO was released on Netflix and at the cinema on the same day, September 30. This contravenes the aforementioned release policy of Oscar. Bluebird, a Dutch film released in 2004 had also been rejected for this reason.

Other Oscars’ disqualification rules

• Aside from the aforementioned rule, other requirements that could lead to the rejection of International Feature Film is failure to release the movie in theatres during the calendar period mandated by Oscars. This year’s period is between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022.

•The movie must have been released in the country the movie is representing, and must have been on Cinema screens for at least seven consecutive days.

• Oscars requires that the language in International Feature Film must be dominated by the native language of the country the movie represents. A foreign movie with dialogue mostly in English gets qualified. This is why Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘LIONHEART’ was also rejected in 2019 by the Oscars.

• A country, where the film comes from, could exercise insufficient artistic control over the movie, and this could lead to the disqualification of the movie. This means if the government of a country isn’t satisfied with the final cut, it could prevent the movie from getting the Oscars’ nomination.

The problem with Nigeria’s Oscars Committee

The Oscars Committee in Nigeria are led by Filmmaker and entrepreneur, Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi. It has 15 members; chairman of Audio-Visual Rights Society (AVRS), Mahmood Ali-Balogun; actresses, Omotola Jalade and Stephanie Linus.

Others are FilmOne Entertainment, Moses Babatope; veteran actress and filmmaker, Ego Boyo; CEO of Legend Box Office, Bruce Ayonote; filmmaker/talent manager, Mildred Okwo; academic/culture journalist, Shaibu Husseini; director and cinematographer, Adetokunbo ‘DJ Tee’ Odubawo, theater practitioner, Yibo Koko; as well as scriptwriter, cinematographer and director, Izu Ojukwu.

Read also:Oscar committee rejects Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Anikulapo’

While this committee is filled with seasoned entertainment experts, they could be politically influenced as the country selects the committee, not Oscars. They could be forced to choose sides in a situation where the government is involved in a faceoff with any movie director and cast.

Oscars has been criticised for empowering a group of people determined by a country to decide the nomination of movies that will represent the country, rather than taking charge directly, which will help directors escape the control of government over their movie for Oscars’ selection.

Note that when a movie is submitted, it doesn’t represent the director, it represents the country. So, if the government doesn’t feel a movie showcases the country in good light or if there’s a grudge between the government and the director, it could be rejected by the committee if the government decides to influence the process.

In related scenarios, recall that Afolayan had joined the EndSARS protest in October 2020, in protest against police brutality against the youths. The Nigerian government had heavily criticised the peaceful protesters who were later shot at by the Nigerian Army, leading to the alleged death of several Nigerians.

Also, in the movie, one of the cast, Bimbo Ademoye, who was the lead actress, displayed her bosom in two different scenes. The revealing act is not a norm in Nigerian movies, and it trended for days on Twitter when the movie was released.

What NOSC snub cost Afolayan and other ANIKULAPO cast members

Oscars awards don’t come with cash, but there are benefits to winning the American awards, as it increases the popularity of the movie, director, producer, actors, actresses, script writer and other casts associated in the movie.

ANIKULAPO getting nominations or winning could have increase the number of persons interested in watching the movie on the streaming platform and at the cinema, resulting to more revenue for the owner of the movie, which could rise by as much as 247.2%, according to IBISWorld.

It enables someone like Afolayan use the Oscars nomination or award to negotiate for investment for his next project, and also allows actors like Kunle Remi (ANIKULAPO lead actor) and actresses involved in the movie increase their asking price by at most 20% to feature in a new film. It is called the “Oscar Effect”.

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