The 2019 Oscars has since started to take shape with the announcement of the Popular Film category, with Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther purported as a worthy contender. The Bradley Cooper vehicle A Star Is Born is pure Oscar bait, and award predictions are running wild as 2018 squeezes out its last batch of movies. But how will African cinema fare at the awards next year?

The Oscar’s Best Foreign Language film is awarded to a film produced outside the U.S. with a predominant non-English dialogue. And, historically, Africa movies have underperformed in the context of emerging as a winner. Out of 2018’s record-breaking number of 92 countries that submitted films for consideration, only eight were from Africa and Nigeria was noticeably absent.

For the 91st Academy Awards, 87 movies are vying to be nominated and nine are from African countries, which includes first-time entrants Malawi and Niger. On January 22, 2019, the nominations will be announced but in the meantime, get familiar with the African movies contending for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

I Am Not a Witch | Rungano Nyoni (Zambia)

I am not a witch is a strong contender because it references a very real culture of branding children as witches and the phenomenon of witch villages, which span across the continent.

Beauty and the Dogs | Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia)

Tunis already has a handful of former strong contenders so maybe this might be their year. We’ll see.

Sew the Winter to My Skin | Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (South Africa)

Sew The Winter To My Skin references South Africa’s colonial past, its culture of cowboys and features the triumphant story of a black man overcoming nature and oppressor, a shoe in for the shortlist.

The Wedding Ring | Rahmatou Keïta (Niger)

Ali Nuhu had to go to Niger to finally find himself on the Oscar’s list, but we are certainly not mad at it.

Yomeddine | A. B. Shawky (Egypt)

I personally want to watch Yomedine, itinerant migrant workers are in the global spotlight right now, thanks to President Trump and the shameful handling of the Mexican Migrant worker crisis. It would be interesting to see the crisis explored from an African perspective.

The Road To Sunrise | Shemu Joyah (Malawi)

Malawi’s contender features a romance between a darkskinned couple, enough reason to give it a go in this age of colourism.

Burnout | Nour-Eddine Lakhmari (Morocco)

Until the End of Time | Yasmine Chouikh (Algeria)


Supa Modo | Likarion Wainaina (Kenya)

SupaModo was one of two Kenyan films to be considered for this year’s Oscars, and got the opportunity to represent because Rafiki, the country’s front contender got hamstrung by homophobia. The film’s director and cast has acknwoledged this bittersweet fortune and have promised to bring the gong home to Wanuri Kahiu.

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