Sudabeh Mortezai’s Joy, Austria’s submission for the Best International Feature Oscar this year, has been disqualified from the category after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences determined the film did not meet eligibility requirements of a submitted film being predominately in a foreign language.
The film, a drama revolving around the world of Nigerian sex workers in Vienna, mixes Pidgin English and German in its 101-minute run time, but not enough non-English-language dialogue to qualify.
“As we do every year, the Academy is in the process of reviewing the films submitted for the International Feature Film category to determine whether they meet our eligibility rules,” the Academy said in a statement Monday. “The film Joy, submitted by Austria, was just reviewed and is ineligible because only 33% of the dialogue is non-English.”
It becomes the second of the 93 international films submitted to the Oscar category formerly knows as Best Foreign Language Film to be jettisoned for not adhering to the Academy rule that “the recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed picture must be predominantly in a language or languages other than English.”
Last week, Nigeria’s submission Lionheart was disqualified after the Academy’s review. Most of that film is in English, with a small portion of the 95-minute run time in the Igbo language.
The Academy informed Austrian officials Monday of its decision on Joy, which won the best film prize at last year’s BFI London Film Festival. Austrian director Mortezai’s script centers on a young Nigerian woman named Joy caught in the vicious cycle of sex trafficking, working the streets of Vienna to pay off debts to her exploiter for bringing her to Europe while supporting her family.
The film is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.
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