- Nigeria’s submission for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, Lionheart, has been disqualified because the majority of the film’s dialogue is in English.
- According to the Academy’s rules, an international film must have a “predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
- Critics like Ava Duvernay pointed out that this rule would essentially bar Nigeria from submitting a film to this category in its official language, which is English. Lionheart can still be submitted for other awards, but it is rare to see a foreign film in slots like Best Picture.
- This has prompted an online discussion on the Academy’s rules and what it should mean to be a considered foreign film.
“Lionheart” Disqualified from Oscars Entry
Leaders in the film industry are speaking out after Nigeria’s first submission to the Acadamy Award’s Best International Feature Film category was disqualified for being primarily in English.
According to a report from The Wrap, The Acadamy sent out an e-mail Monday announcing that Lionheart is no longer eligible for the award formerly known as Best Foreign Language Film. Lionheart was directed by Nigerian actress and filmmaker Genevieve Nnaji, who also stars in the film.
Of the film’s 95 minute run, less than 15 minutes are in Igbo, a language native to Nigeria, and the rest is in English. The Academy defines an international film as “a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.” English, however, is Nigeria’s official language.
When the Oscars initially announced the list of submitted films in October, Lionheart appeared on the list, but it had not yet been reviewed by the International Feature Film Award Executive Committee. A recent viewing prompted the disqualification and an upcoming screening of the film for voters has been canceled.
Reactions to the Disqualification
Because Nigeria’s official language is English, this decision sparked backlash from members of the film community. Director, writer, and producer Ava Duvernay, who is behind projects like Selma and When They See Us, tweeted to the Academy about the news.
Nnaji shared Duvernay’s tweet saying Lionheart “represents the way we speak as Nigerians.”
She also compared Nigeria’s use of English to former French colonies’ relationship with France and the French language.
The idea of colonization became a major talking point in the online discussion of Lionheart’s disqualification. Nigeria was colonized by the British, which is why English is spoken there to begin with.
“So now we are getting penalised for having been colonised by Britain?” writer and journalist Afua Hirsch asked.
“You really can’t win with this lot. Quite literally cannot win,” added journalist Samira Sawlani.
Discussion on Academy Rules
The news of Nigeria being barred for submitting a film in its own official language started a discussion on what it should mean to be classified as a foreign or international film, as well as discussion over how the Oscars should adopt this in their rules. Lulu Wang, who wrote and directed The Farewell, asked questions about how we should define these concepts.
One user pointed out that other award shows have updated their rules after people protested them for being outdated or unfair.
Another suggested that there be two categories for foreign films so more could be included and the rules could be applied in a more even manner.
The Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee responded to the Academy’s decision themselves. In a statement obtained by Variety, they said that many movies in the Nigerian film industry use English to obtain a wider reach.
“The budding Nigerian film industry is often faced with producing films with wide reach which often makes the recording dialogue predominantly English with non-English infusions in some cases,” they said.
They later added that this disqualification was “an eye-opener and step forward into growing a better industry” that could urge filmmakers “to shoot with the intention of non-English recording dialogue as a key qualifying parameter to represent the country in the [contest for the] most prestigious award.”
The Academy has not made a statement on the matter. Lionheart is still eligible to submit itself for Best Picture and other awards. Foreign-produced films, however, rarely make it to these slots and none have ever won the top prize.
See what others are saying: (The Wrap) (Variety) (Los Angeles Times)
AJC Says Film “Richard Jewell” Falsely Depicts their Reporter
- Clint Eastwood’s new film Richard Jewell follows the man falsely accused of planting the Centennial Park bomb in 1996, with an angle that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution vigorously led the charge against him in their reporting on the case.
- The film implies that reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, traded sex for a news tip.
- The AJC and colleagues of Scruggs claim this is false, and the paper is asking the filmmakers to add a disclaimer noting that elements of the story have been fabricated.
- Warner Brothers has defended the film and its depiction of both Jewell and the reporters who covered him. The movie will have a standard disclaimer at the end, as is typical with many films based on real-life events.
AJC Sends Letter to Warner Brothers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote a letter to Warner Brothers requesting that they add a disclaimer before their new film Richard Jewell, saying the movie inaccurately depicts their reporter trading sex for a news tip.
The letter was sent to the studio, as well as the film’s director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Billy Ray. Based on a Vanity Fair article, the film follows Richard Jewell, who became the FBI’s suspect in the 1996 Centennial Bombing in Atlanta after he reported a suspicious package and helped clear the area. The AJC was the first outlet to report that he was being considered a suspect. Jewell ended up being innocent.
The film implies that the journalist working on the story, Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, traded sex for information on Jewell’s case. The paper claims that this did not happen and that there is no evidence to support it.
“Such a portrayal makes it appear that the AJC sexually exploited its staff and/or that it facilitated or condoned offering sexual gratification to sources in exchange for stories,” the letter said. “That is entirely false and malicious, and it is extremely defamatory and damaging.”
Scruggs is no longer alive to defend her work. She died at the age of 43 in 2001, with many close to her believing the stress from the controversy of her reporting attributed to the poor health that caused her early death.
In addition to the disclaimer, The AJC is also requesting that Warner Brothers make a statement “publicly acknowledging that some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license and dramatization were used in the film’s portrayal of events and characters.”
Jewell, who died in 2007, filed and settled suits with numerous outlets following the accusations against him. Of all the organizations involved in legal battles over this, the AJC was the only one who did not settle. Their case was dismissed in 2011 with the court saying that at the time, what the outlet was printing was true. They defended their reporting, which many critics say the film attacks, in their letter.
“The AJC actually held that story for a day to develop additional independent corroboration of key facts prior to publication. Law enforcement sources confirmed to the AJC their focus on Mr. Jewell,” the letter said. “The accuracy of the story had also been confirmed with an FBI spokesperson to whom the entire story was read before publication.”
AJC Journalists Criticize Film
Richard Jewell hits theatres everywhere on Dec. 13. The film has received positive reviews and awards buzz so far, though some critics have pointed out the heavy-handed way the film depicts news media. The Washington Post said Eastwood’s latest project paints the press as “the enemy of the people” and “caricatures of corruption.”
Slate said it depicted Scruggs as “vampiric.” The AJC published a piece called “The Ballad of Kathy Scruggs” citing people who knew Scruggs at the time, all who claimed this portrait of her was far from reality.
One colleague called the film version of Scruggs “complete horse (expletive)” and “just not true.” Her reporting partner at the time also critiqued it.
“It’s obvious to me they did not go to any great lengths to find out what the real characters were like,” he said.
“The film literally makes things up and adds to misunderstandings about how serious news organizations work,” he said. “It’s ironic that the film commits the same sins that it accuses the media of committing.”
Warner Brothers Defends Film
“It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast,” their statement said. “’Richard Jewell’ focuses on the real victim, seeks to tell his story, confirm his innocence and restore his name. The (Journal-Constitution’s) claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend against them.”
They also told Fox News that the film will have a disclaimer at the end of it, which is standard for most films based at least partially on true stories. This disclaimer will note that while the movie is based on historical events, elements have been added for the purposes of dramatization.
Wilde has previously defended the film and her character. She told the Hollywood Reporter that Scrugg’s legacy has been “unfairly boiled down to one element of her personality, one inferred moment in the film.”
“I think that people have a hard time accepting sexuality in female characters without allowing it to entirely define that character,” Wilde added. “We don’t do that to James Bond, We don’t say James Bond isn’t a real spy because he gets his information sometimes by sleeping with women as sources.”
See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (New York Times) (IndieWire)
Ethan Klein Accused of Racism and Homophobia after Calling K-pop a “Little Twink, Gay Fetish”
- Ethan Klein of h3h3 Productions referred to BTS and other K-pop stars as part of a “little twink, gay fetish” in a recent podcast.
- Klein also made sexually obscene comments involving K-pop’s young female fans.
- Soon after, #h3h3IsOverParty trended on Twitter, with many calling his comments both homophobic and racist.
- Klein then doubled down on Twitter, telling K-pop fans to “lighten up” while also accusing them of being responsible for a recent wave of K-pop star suicides.
Klein Calls K-pop a “Twink, Gay Fetish”
After insulting K-pop by calling it a “little twink, gay fetish,” Ethan Klein is being accused of making both racist and homophobic comments.
In a podcast posted to their channel on Saturday, Klein and his wife Hila were breaking down YouTube’s 2019 Rewind. Klein’s comments came when the video showed mega-successful band BTS as having the second most-liked music video on the platform for 2019.
“I don’t get the BTS thing,” Klein said just before the podcast’s 26:00 minute mark. “I’m just going to say it right now, I don’t like K-pop. I hate K-pop. I don’t get BTS. How did this become a thing in Western culture, where all these grown men and little girls are jerking off to K-pop boys? It’s like a little fetish. It’s like a little twink, gay fetish about these K-pop boys.”
The next day, #h3h3IsOverParty started trending on Twitter, where many people criticized Klein’s comments. The backlash did not come as a surprise to Klein, who joked about being “assassinated” by K-pop fans in the podcast.
Twitter users also began uncovering and sharing other, older podcasts, where Klein used both racist and homophobic slurs back to back.
“I love that I can just say [n-word] [f-word], though,” Klein said in one podcast. “Like how could— I couldn’t really say that, [n-word] [f-word]. So wonderful.”
Klein Called Out for “Homophobic” and “Racist” Comments
With Klein’s most recent comments regarding K-pop, however, many denounced his speech as racist and homophobic. Other critics also condemned Klein’s mention of sexually obscene comments regarding K-pop’s young female fans.
“it doesn’t matter if you don’t like kpop, you’re entitled to ur opinions,” one user wrote. “it DOES matter when grown ass adults with a platform are sexualising an entire industry and calling it porn for underage girls and perverts? how do people not understand how gross that is ?? #h3h3isoverparty”
However, some people defended Klein, arguing that some K-pop fans promote the idea of fetishizing Asian men and that Klein was simply making an over-the-top joke.
Klein Doubles Down on Comments
Klein responded to the backlash on Sunday evening in a series of posts, where he joked about making the trending list and told K-pop fans to “lighten up” before making a further sexually obscene comment.
Klein, however, faced another controversy when he said K-pop fans “are responsible for dozens of suicides of K-pop idols because of their online abuse.”
Klein’s comment seemingly refers to a recent wave of suicides among popular Korean icons, such as Sulli, a K-pop star and actress who died in October, whose death was reportedly linked to cyberbullying. In November, another K-pop star, Goo Hara, also committed suicide after people online harassed her following the news that her boyfriend threatened to post an illegal sex tape of her.
Experts, however, have said that no single answer can explain the larger phenomenon of these deaths, with those experts also citing South Korea’s conservative society and the immense pressure K-pop stars face from fans and industry executives.
On Twitter, many then pushed back against Klein’s claim.
As the situation unfolded, Klein’s wife Hila responded by asking if she was also canceled, with Klein saying he was taking her down with him.
Later, Pewdiepie, possibly poking fun at the situation, tweeted his reaction.
“Fucking POS YOURE TRASH!” he said. “Speak bad of kpop and bts again and army will WALK ALL OVER YOU! @h3h3productions #h3h3isoverparty”
Bill Nye’s $28M Lawsuit Against Disney Headed to Trial
- Bill Nye will take Disney to trial under allegations that the company shortchanged him and his partners $28 million for his 1990s television series.
- The “Science Guy” claims that he is personally owed at least $9.4 million.
- Nye filed a complaint in 2017 and a Los Angeles judge just ruled that the case will go to trial.
- The trial will take place in May 2020 over a span of 10 days, according to the ruling.
Judge Gives Green Light
Bill Nye, popularly known as the “Science Guy,” has been granted permission to take his case against the Walt Disney Company to trial.
Nye alleges that Disney failed to pay him and his partners $28.1 million in revenue from his hit 1990s television show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” He claims he alone is owed at least $9.4 million.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled on Thursday that a 10-day trial will occur in May 2020 to address the allegations.
The television personality filed suit in 2017, questioning Disney’s Buena Vista Television, who handled the accounting.
According to the complaint, Buena Vista Television came to a written agreement with Nye and the other owners of the show in which they agreed to “promote, market, and distribute the show.” Nye and his partners said that under this deal they were entitled to 50% of the net profit, but were shortchanged.
Nye said he became suspicious of the accuracy of his paychecks after Disney claimed they made an “accounting error” in 2008. At that time, the company insisted that he repay them thousands of dollars that they had sent him a few months earlier.
“Bill Nye the Science Guy” ran on PBS for five seasons between 1993-1998 and was screened in classrooms nationwide for educational purposes.