UniFrance has criticised the “violent reaction” to Cuties, a film its director argues “sounds the alarm” about sexualising pre-pubescent girls instead of exploiting ideas for art.
In a memo sent out to the French industry today (September 18), the state-backed group, which supports and promotes French cinema worldwide, said it “offers its full support” to director Maïmouna Doucouré and the film’s producers.
Online trolls have attacked Doucouré, Netflix and anyone connected with the movie of hyper-sexualising the movie’s young characters.
As The Hollywood Reporter writes, Doucouré defended her film on Monday (September 14) at a Toronto Film Festival panel on French filmmakers sponsored by UniFrance. Doucouré said that Cuties is intended to “sound the alarm” that we need “to protect our children”.
Cuties follows a pre-teen girl from a Muslim Senegalese family who joins a group of young dancers who record sexualised dance routines and share them online.
Netflix bought the film in a worldwide deal after the movie’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival where Doucouré won the Dramatic Directing Award (World Cinema).
Part of UniFrance’s statement reads: “Over the past several weeks, we have been closely following the exceptionally violent reaction to the film in the United States, during a presidential election campaign in full swing.
“In this context, UniFrance and all of its members wish to pledge their full support to Maïmouna Doucouré and to reaffirm their commitment to supporting the freedom of artistic creation and expression. This is because one of the great strengths of cinema is its capacity to reach beyond borders and boundaries, and to offer a critical and constructive viewpoint on the world and the excesses of today’s societies.
“Cuties offers a subtle and sophisticated denunciation of the hyper-sexualisation of a young generation who translate and reproduce the images that inundate them in their daily lives, particularly via social media.”
Doucouré revealed that she has received death threats for her work. The furore has been picked up by conservatives in the US, and trolls have linked the movie to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which alleges widespread child sexual abuse amongst Hollywood elites.
A poster of the film initially caused a backlash after being regarded as sexually exploitative. Netflix apologised, removed the material, and said: “We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
You can read UniFrance’s statement in full here.