Netflix film Cuties shortlisted for Oscars 2021 nominations despite controversy

Film has proved hugely divisive since its release on Netflix in September

Annabel Nugent
Friday 13 November 2020 07:37
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Cuties trailer

Netflix’s French film Cuties has been shortlisted for next year’s Oscars nominations , despite accusations that it promotes “lewd content”.

Deadline reports that France’s Academy Award selection committee included the drama on their shortlist of films that are in contention to go forward as the country’s submission to the International Feature Film category at the 2021 awards ceremony.

Cuties, titled Mignonnes in France, seeks to criticise the sexualisation of young girls in modern society through its story of an 11-year-old girl who joins a dance “clique” to rebel against her conservative Senegalese background.

Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, it won the directing award in the dramatic world cinema category at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

However, criticism of the film began when Netflix’s own marketing featured a poster that was condemned for sexualising children. The streaming giant ended up removing the poster and issuing an apology for the “inappropriate” artwork.

Netflix cancellations rose significantly in the wake of the controversy surrounding ‘Cuties’

Following the film’s release in September, however, the hashtag #CancelNetflix began trending on Twitter with people boycotting the platform, claiming that the movie sexualises its 11-year-old characters and is “feeding paedophilia”.

One user on Twitter wrote: “Why did Netflix let a child porn be aired? 650 little girls twerking….”

A petition on Change.org calling on customers to cancel their Netflix subscriptions over content “that exploits children and creates a disturbing vibe” has gained over 650,000 signatures.

Doucouré revealed that she has since received death threats over her divisive film.

Last month, it was reported that Netflix is facing criminal charges over Cuties amid the backlash.

The streaming giant was indicted by a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, according to state lawmaker Matt Schaefer who posted court papers on Twitter.

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The indictment states that Netflix has been charged with “promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex”.

A number of actors spoke out in support of the film. Avengers: Endgame star Tessa Thompson wrote: “Cuties is a beautiful film. It gutted me at @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences. The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse.”

You can read The Independent’s review of the film here.

Deadline reports that the other shortlisted films in contention with Cuties are Ete 85 (Summer of 85), ADN (DNA), Two of Us and Gagarine.

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