Netflix’s Cuties Director Defends Film As Feminist Amid Backlash

by : Cameron Frew on : 15 Sep 2020 17:37
Maïmouna Doucouré CutiesNetflix Film Club/YouTube/Netflix

Maïmouna Doucouré, the director of Cuties, has defended the controversial film as ‘bold’ and ‘feminist’. 

Ever since Netflix’s first poster for the movie emerged online, Cuties – originally titled Mignonnes – has been a major topic of conversation. Even with the streaming platform apologising, more and more people have been poking the fire on either side of the debate: does its sexualisation of children go too far?


The French filmmaker, who won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has been slammed for its (purposely) troubling imagery. However, she’s standing by it.

Cuties NetflixNetflix

The film follows Amy, an 11-year-old girl of a Senegalese-Muslim family who joins a school dance group. As per The Hollywood Reporter, Doucouré appeared at a panel at Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 14, in which she told fellow filmmakers about why she made Cuties.

She explained: 


It’s because I saw so many things and so many issues around me lived by young girls, that I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say we need to protect our children.

It’s bold, its feminist, but it’s so important and necessary to create debate and try to find solutions, for me as an artist, for politicians and parents. It’s a real issue.

In an earlier statement, Netflix also defended the film, calling it a ‘social commentary against the sexualisation of young children. It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.’

When Netflix’s first poster dropped online, Doucouré previously told Deadline: ‘I received numerous attacks on my character from people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was [un]apologetic about hypersexualisation of children. I also received numerous death threats.’


The streamer apologised for the ‘inappropriate artwork’, saying it was ‘not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance’.

Westworld stars Evan Rachel Wood and Tessa Thompson hold conflicting views on the film, with the former writing on Instagram: ‘Anyone who says this is a conspiracy or this isn’t a child exploitation needs to seriously wake up, none of this was necessary for the story.’

She added: ‘These are 11-year-old girls… Cuties crossed so many lines… It was shot in a predatory manner without any sense of serious consequences.’


Whereas Thompson wrote on Twitter: ‘Disappointed to see how it was positioned in terms of marketing. I understand the response of everybody. But it doesn’t speak to the film I saw.’

Cuties is available to stream on Netflix now.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, feminism, Film, Netflix


The Hollywood Reporter and 1 other
  1. The Hollywood Reporter

    Toronto: 'Cuties’ Director Says Netflix Film Not Hyper-Sexualizing Young Girls: "It's a Real Issue"

  2. Deadline

    ‘Cuties’ Director Says She Received Death Threats After Netflix Poster Backlash; Ted Sarandos Called Her To Apologize