‘The Milkmaid‘, a film by Desmond Ovbiagele, has been selected as Nigeria’s official submission for the International Feature Film (IFF) category of the 93rd Academy Awards also known as the Oscars.

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The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee (NOSC) announced it as the country’s selection on Tuesday.

The selection process was carried out by a 12-man committee, headed by Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi, filmmaker and education administrator, having followed the prescribed procedures by the academy.

It is also subject to further determination by the IFF executive committee.

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Seven out of the nine committee members voted ‘The Milkmaid’, while the remaining three members were considered ineligible due to their affiliation with some of the films in competition, in line with the Academy’s rules.

The ‘Milkmaid’ had the highest votes after competing with several movies entries including ‘Sanitation Day’ by Seyi Babatope, ‘Voiceless’ by Robert Peters, ‘Oloture’ by Kenneth Gyang, ‘Ibi’ (The Birth) by Seyi Alabi, and ‘Eyimofe’ by Arie Esiri.

Anyaene-Abonyi said the parameters set by the academy were followed diligently in the selection process, adding that there was significant improvement in the quality of films received this year.

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“The Academy’s approved parameters had to be diligently followed to select the country’s entry without prejudice. And I must say that the Nigerian film industry is awakened to the internationally acceptable requirements for film production, though there would always be room for improvement in order to increase our competitive outlook every year,” she said.

The Academy Award, scheduled to hold on April 25, 2021, is an annual event organized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to celebrate the best movies of the year as assessed by the academy’s voting membership.

It is regarded as the most famous and prestigious awards in the entertainment industry. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette as a trophy, officially called the ‘Academy Award of Merit’, or the ‘Oscar’.

‘Lionheart‘, a 2018 film produced by Genevieve Nnaji became Nigeria’s first-ever entry for the Oscars in 2019. It was however, disqualified for not meeting the non-English dialogue criteria, leading to the controversy on whether or not Nigerian pidgin should not be considered a local language.

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The ‘Milkmaid’, which was released on November 27, was shot in Taraba state, featuring the likes of Anthonieta Kalunta, Maryam Booth, and Gambo Usman Kona.

It addresses the issues faced by women caught in the upheaval of insurgency in rural Sub-Saharan Africa using the story of Zainab and her sister who were separated by Boko Haram militants.

It also examines the trauma of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as girls forced into early marriage.

‘The Milkmaid’ snagged eight nominations including ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Film in an African Language’, ‘Achievement in Makeup’, and ‘Achievement in Cinematography’ categories ahead of the 2020 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) billed for December 20.

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