Mildred Okwo has asked the Nigeria Official Selection Committee (NOSC) to submit one of the entries shortlisted to represent the country in the 2023 Oscars.

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The filmmaker also proposed that the controversial “no film eligible” option be expunged from the committee’s ballot.

The NOSC exists to ensure that the entry to represent Nigeria in the IFF (international feature film) category of the Oscars meets all eligibility requirements to compete.

After making significant inroads in 2021 with ‘Milkmaid’ and being dropped from the first shortlist, Nigeria didn’t come up with a movie to vie in the 2022 edition as the NOSC filed that none of its options were good enough.

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Last month, NOSC failed again to submit for 2023, a situation that filmmakers have since blamed on the sudden introduction of a “no film eligible” category in the framework on which the committee’s internal voting was based.

This move has since caused tension in the NOSC, culminating in the resignation of some committee members.

NOSC members enraged by the turn of events wrote to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences AMPAS, the organisers of the Oscars, seeking its intervention to allow filmmakers to vote again and submit an entry.

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The Academy, after initially stating it wouldn’t interfere, later asked NOSC to reconvene and review its decision.

The entries that made NOSC’s final selection process and were earlier voted on by its 15-member committee on September 3 are Biyi Bandele’s ‘Eleshin Oba’, Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Anikulapo’, and Femi Adebayo’s ‘King of Thieves’.

Eight members voted “no submission” while ‘Elesin Oba’ received five votes. The remaining films got one vote each.

Following her resignation, Okwo had turned down several attempts by the press to elicit her stance on the matter.

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However, in a thread via her Twitter handle on Wednesday night, the film director stated that her silence was being misconstrued as weakness in a turn of events she feared could put her credibility and reputation in harm’s way.

Okwo said the committee should expunge the “no submission” option and pick one of three shortlisted entries.

“The committee must come together regardless of any prior disagreements to resolve the issues,” she added

As of TheCable’s last report on this matter, NOSC was divided about revoting, with some members arguing that doing so could amount to asking filmmakers to backtrack on their judgments about the earlier vetted entries.

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Others also expressed concern about how NOSC’s internal wrangle has negatively impacted its public image.

Selection, without re-voting, effectively paves way for the submission of ‘Elesin Oba‘, a film by the late Bandele.

Read Okwo’s full statement below:

It has become obvious that keeping quiet and having decorum over Oscar committee matters is being seen as a sign of weakness on my part. If I continue to ignore mischief makers, they will ruin the little credibility I have.

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It is my view that the Committee is there to serve the interest of Nigerians not act as unyielding gatekeepers. We in the committee are supposed to yield to superior arguments especially when it is obvious that we have made a mistake.

This year, we found that 3 films met the eligibility requirements for submission to the Academy. Instead of receiving a voting ballot that had the name of the 3 films, an additional category was included “do not submit”. This is when in my humble opinion our mistake began.

Even I, at that moment, did not reason that this was an anomaly. We should have voted for whichever film we wanted out of the 3 films that were eligible to be submitted. Conversely, if you felt all 3 films did not meet artistic standards, then you could have abstained from voting

This is the first time we have ever had a voting ballot that said “do not submit” and it makes no sense to me in hindsight. The only way a film should not be submitted is if all members abstained from voting because the film did not meet our artistic standards.

Eg., if u make a film that is eligible to be submitted, a member can decide that they do not like the subject matter. The only recourse they should have is to abstain not vote “do not submit” because “do not submit” is not a film.

This year, one film got 5 votes, as has been released to the press by the committee. The other 2 films got a vote each while 8 people voted “do not submit”. In my view, those “do not submit” votes should not count as discussed above.

The Academy has given us an opportunity to redeem ourselves and I have asked that “do not submit” not be a part of the ballot. Even though some members do not think we made a mistake in the first place, I am owning up to it.

One of those three films should be submitted this year because they are eligible according to the rules we put out. The committee must come together regardless of any prior disagreements to resolve the issues in the interest of Nigerians.

Many of the leaked stories and documents are self-serving. I do not support dragging any member of the committee because they are doing the best they know how. Our industry is young in this Oscar submission thing, and we will keep learning and adjusting as time goes on.



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