Nigeria has picked Sundance Festival award-winning film, “Mami Wata” as its contender for the 96th Academy Awards’ International Feature Film (IFF) category.
Written and directed by C.J. Obasi, the film is an exploration and creative reimagination of the mythology of a titular mermaid-deity of West African folklore, and one which, among other things, celebrates womanhood.
The Nigerian Official Section Committee (NOSC) for the IFF said it selected the film for its “relevant theme – multiple generations of women at the forefront of society’s well-being, its unique approach to a story of pre and post-colonial African societies, as well as its technical and artistic excellence.”
The NOSC voting members include Stepanie Linus – award-winning actress and Chairperson of NOSC; Dr Chidia Maduekwe – M.D Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC); Dr. Victor Okhai – President of Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN); Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde – veteran actress; Mr. Andy Amenechi – former President of DGN; Yibo Koko – theatre practitioner; and Izu Ojukwu – writer/director.
Others are Adetokunbo ‘DJ Tee’ Odubawo – Cinematographer; Emem Isong – writer/producer; Dimeji Ajibola – director; Jude Idada – writer/director; Ngozi Okafor – producer/costumier; John Njamah – actor/director; and Meg Otanwa – actress/polyglot.
“I’m excited to announce a milestone in our NOSC journey: our first Pidgin film submission to the Academy, marking our commitment to diversity and global representation. I urge filmmakers not to relent in enhancing their skills, and elevate production to global standards,” Linus stated.
“Mami Wata” advances in the Oscars race having received the highest votes from the 14-man committee. The next stage of the film will be determined by the IFF Executive Committee.
Shot on location in the Republic of Benin, “Mami Wata” tells the story of a beach-side community that must interrogate previously held beliefs when a stranger washes up ashore and further threatens its harmony.
The film, which had its theatrical releases in Nigeria and other countries, won the Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 for its vivid black-and-white cinematography.
The 96th Oscars will take place on Sunday, March 10, 2024. The show will air live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide from the Dolby Theatre at Ovation, Hollywood