Officials at France's top film organisation Unifrance have pledged to support director Maimouna Doucour's documentary "Cuties", insisting critics who have blasted the film in America have missed the point.
The controversial film chronicles the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese girl in Paris, who joins a free-spirited dance troupe to escape family dysfunction.
The movie won acclaim when it debuted at January's (20) Sundance Film Festival in Utah for its portrayal of the hypersexualisation of pre-teen girls, and Netflix bosses brokered a deal for the worldwide rights for the project and launched it earlier this month (Sep20) on the streaming platform.
The film came out amid drama linked to a promotional poster, featuring its young stars, which critics slammed for being inappropriate and suggestive. Some went so far as to create a #CancelNetflix movement over the billboard and Doucour has since revealed she received death threats over the controversy.
Now, officials at the French government-backed film group have pledged their full support to the filmmaker and the movie's producers in a statement released on Friday (18Sep20), which reads in part, "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 Maimouna Doucoure 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."
Doucour also spoke out about the movie this week (14Sep20) at a Toronto Film Festival panel in Canada, promoted by UniFrance. She insisted her intention in making Cuties was to "sound the alarm" on the subject of "protecting our children."
Netflix bosses also previously defended their contentious acquisition in a statement to Variety, describing Cuties as "a social commentary against the sexualization of young children… and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up."
They added, "We'd encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie."