Oscars 2024: CJ Obasi’s “Mami Wata” Chosen as Nigeria’s Feature Film Submission

BY Dora Dzaka October 18, 2023 6:01 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Mami Wata film cover

The 96th Academy Awards are scheduled to occur at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 10, 2024.

As a result, the Academy is now accepting submissions for movies that have to have been theatrically released in their home nations between December 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023. The Academy will accept applications until October 2.

A full-length motion picture with a largely (more than 50%) non-English speech track that was made outside of the United States is referred to as an international feature film. Animated and documentary films are also included in this definition.

The West African folktale “Mami Wata by C.J. Obasi has been picked by the Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC) as Nigeria’s entry for the “Best International Feature Film” category.

Remember that Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart was Nigeria’s first Oscar entry for the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was disqualified because it included a lot of English dialogue? The 2021 entry, The Milkmaid, also failed to appear on the Oscars shortlist.

The unanimous choice of Mami Wata by the NOSC, a group of 14 industry experts, was made because of its “relevant theme,” “unique approach to a story of pre- and post-colonial African societies,” and “its technical and artistic excellence.”

Written and directed by C.J. Obasi, the film tells the tale of a beachside community that is forced to re-evaluate long-held beliefs when a stranger threatens the peace further by washing up on the coast.

Obasi’s third feature film to screen at Sundance, the movie had its world premiere there in 2023. It was also chosen to be a part of the Venice Film Festival’s final cut for the 78th Biennale di Venezia in 2021.

Evelyne Ily Juhen, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Kelechi Udegbe, Emeka Amakeze, Rita Edochie, Tough Bone, and Jakob Kerstan are among the outstanding actors in the movie.

At the 2023 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), the movie received numerous nominations, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Achievement in Make-Up, and Best Achievement in Costume Design.

“I’m thrilled to announce a significant turning point in our NOSC journey: the submission of our first Pidgin video to the Academy, demonstrating our dedication to diversity and worldwide representation.” Stephanie Linus, the Chairperson of the Oscar Submission Committee said and went on to urge filmmakers to keep working to improve their abilities and raise production to international levels.

There are many other films from Africa that have been submitted, such as Banel & Adama by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a French director who relies on her Senegalese lineage in this debut feature about a married couple who defy the village’s expectations of them to be together and many more.

The final five nominations will be revealed by the Academy on January 23, 2024, after a shortlist of 15 contenders is revealed on December 21.