Oscars: Austria’s ‘Joy’ entry on Nigerian sex workers disqualified

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The Academy has disqualified Austria’s contender from
the Oscar race for the Best International Feature Film category for having too
much dialogue in English.

This comes as the second disqualification after Nigeria’s Lionheart entry was sidelined on November 4.

The latest casualty is Austrian filmmaker Sudabeh
Mortezai’s Joy, a film about Nigerian
sex workers living in Vienna.

This brings the number of films competing for the award
to 91 from what had been a record 93 entries.

In a statement on Monday, the Academy said 33 per cent of the film’s dialogue is non-English, falling short of the criterion of having non-English as predominant dialogue.

“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 Academy said.

Co-chair of the selection committee, Larry Karaszewski, said: “If you’re submitting for something as important as an Academy Award, I would think you should look at the rules.”

He added that while the name of the award category had
been changed earlier this year from ‘Best Foreign-Language Film’ to ‘Best
International Feature Film’, the rules had not changed.

Joy premiered at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, and won top prize at the London Film Festival a month later.

American filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, who questioned the Academy’s delisting of Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, also criticised its decision to disqualify Joy.

“Another one. How about letting countries submit the film they feel best represents its cinematic work in any given year? I’m really asking. There has to be a good reason for not. I want to understand, @TheAcademy. I know when the no English rule originated. But why? Please share,” she wrote on Twitter.

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