Nigeria’s Mami Wata guns for Oscars 2024

Nigeria has selected Sundance Festival’s award winning film, Mami Wata to compete in the International Feature Film (IFF) category at the 2024 Oscars.

Written and directed by C.J. Obasi, the film is an exploration and creative re-imagination of the mythology of a titular mermaid-deity of West African folklore, and one, which, among other things, celebrates womanhood.

According to the Nigerian Official Selection Committee (NOSC), it selected the film because of its “relevant theme – multiple generations of women at the forefront of society’s wellbeing – its unique approach to a story of pre and post-colonial African societies, as well as its technical and artistic excellence.”

The voting members include award winning actress and chairperson of NOSC, Stepanie Linus; Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, Managing Director, Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC); Dr. Victor Okhai, President, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN); veteran actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde; Mr. Andy Amenechi, former President, DGN; ace theater practitioner, Yibo Koko; and writer/director, Izu Ojukwu.

Others are cinematographer, Adetokunbo ‘DJ Tee’ Odubawo; writer/producer, Emem Isong; director, Dimeji Ajibola; writer/director, Jude Idada; producer/costumier, Ngozi Okafor; actor/director, John Njamah; and actress/polyglot, Meg Otanwa.

“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 IFF Executive Committee will determine the next stage of the film.

Shot on location in the Republic of Benin, Mami Wata tells the story of a beachside 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 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.

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