"Cuties" is a French film that follows the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant in France who rebels against her family's Muslim traditions and joins a free-spirited dance crew.
"I chose to make this film and sound an alarm", Maimouna Doucoure said yesterday at a panel during the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF.
According to the conservative American advocacy group the Parents Television Council, which said it reviewed the film, "Cuties" is objectionable because of its overt sexualization of the child characters. "People [at Sundance] agreed with that".
Maimouna adds that she wants to "open people's eyes on this issue and try to fix it" and it's "important and necessary to create a debate and find solutions as filmmakers, politicians, and within the educational system".
Doucouré told Variety the controversy "started with the artwork". "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".
"Although there is a danger that little girls will be attracted to this film, the far greater risk is the way this film normalizes the sexualization of little girls", PTC program director Melissa Henson said in a statement Thursday, adding that Netflix is "desensitizing millions of viewers at home by asking them to be entertained by it".
"Netflix has apologized to the public and to myself", she said of the poster controversy. "Yup, now we have soft core pedo porn on a mainstream media platform", the actor posted in disbelief. I didn't see the poster that Netflix came out with before it premiered.