A sad blow for the Nigerian film industry after two years of silence.
Nigeria’s submission for the 96th Academy Award, Mami Wata by C.J Obasi didn’t make the shortlist.
On Thursday, December 21, 2023, the Oscars announced its shortlists for the 96th Academy Awards in various categories, ending Nigeria’s race in the competition.
The journey of Mami Wata, an ambitious black and white film to the Oscars itself had been tedious. For starters, the movie is told in Nigerian pidgin, a linguistic code and not a language per se. The Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC) had to amend its rules to include pidgin as an indigenous Nigerian language to clear its path to be submitted.
On Sunday, October 15, 2023, the committee announced Obasi’s Mami Wata as the country’s contender for the International Feature Film (IFF) category of the 96th Academy Awards next year.
The movie also had to battle with strong contenders which huge marketing budgets. France official submission for the same category, for instance, had been advertised on almost every episode of the New York Times hit podcast, The Daily while selection was happening.
However, two other African countries’ submissions made the list: Morocco’s The Mother of All Lies and Tunisia’s Four Daughters.
From its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, to the African premiere at FESPACO, and international deals along the way, Mami Wata ascended to critical acclaim for its avant-garde fill and heavy themes, tacking African religiosity in the age of Western Evangelical colonisation of the world.
Its nomination had put an end to Nigeria’s two-year no-submission for the Oscars.
However, the flick has another international nomination for the Spirit Awards in the international film category and a cinematic opening in Germany and Austria from January 11, 2024.