The Nigerian Oscars Selection Committee has selected Desmond Ovbiagele’s ‘The Milkmaid’ as Nigeria’s submission to the International Feature Film category of the 2021 Oscars.
‘The Milkmaid’ beat out several films, including Mo Abudu’s ‘Oloture,’ ‘Eyimofe,’ ‘Voiceless’ and ‘Sanitation Day’.
Written and directed by Ovbiagele, ‘The Milkmaid’ is a Hausa language-based thriller on insurgency, especially as it affects women and children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Inspired by the image on Nigeria’s 10 Naira note, it tells the story of a Fulani milkmaid who confronts extremists in a rural African community, in a quest to locate her missing sister, and how efforts to recapture her disrupted past prove complicated.
Shot on location in Taraba State, North-East Nigeria, it stars popular northern Nigerian actress, Maryam Booth, alongside Ibrahim Jammal, Anthonieta Kalunta, and Gambo Usman Kona. It was also nominated for the 2020 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) scoring eight nominations.
“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,” said Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi, a member of the selection committee.
Last year, Nigeria’s submission ‘Lionheart’ was disqualified for not meeting the non-English language requirement, leading to the controversy on whether or not Nigerian pidgin should not be considered a local language. Although that rule has been reviewed, approving dialogues in pidgin, ‘The Milkmaid’, shot with Hausa, Fulfulde and Arabic dialogues appears to have been made with the original Academy rules in mind.
The 93rd edition of the Academy Awards is scheduled to hold on April 25, 2021.