Controversial film shortlisted to represent France at the Oscars

THE French Oscar selection committee has included controversial film ‘Cuties’ in the shortlist of five films in contention to represent France in the 2021 Academy Awards.

The film was behind calls to boycott Netflix, as the initial marketing campaign on the streaming platform was said to sexualise children.

If chosen, the drama, with the original title Mignonnes, would represent France in the International Feature Film category.

It won the Sundance award for Maïmouna Doucouré and was well-received in France this summer.

However, the online campaign to boycott Netflix for streaming it became one of the biggest trending topics on Twitter.

There were hundreds of thousands of tweets featuring #CancelNetflix when it was released internationally on September 9.

‘Cuties’ tells the story of an 11-year old Senegalese girl from a traditional Muslim family living in one of the poorest parts of Paris with her mother and brothers.

She becomes fascinated by a twerking dance group set up by a bunch of youngsters in her neighbourhood, who emulate the often very suggestive moves they see from pop stars. Her increasing awareness of her femininity upsets her family values.

The images used to promote Mignonnes sparked criticism, prompting Netflix to remove them and apologise for them being “inappropriate.” When it was finally released, there was anger on social media where many claimed that it represents the sexual exploitation of children and that it is nothing short of child pornography.

Feminist groups complained that it promoted the idea that girls can only be empowered by “shaking their backsides” and there were petitions on to have it removed from Netflix.

The director, who became the victim of insults and death threats from people who hadn’t even seen the film, claims that far from promoting the sexualisation of pre-teens, her intent was to highlight the fact that women and girls are being seen as objects and young people are adopting age-inappropriate behaviour.

If the film is chosen to represent France, which seems unlikely, it will surely reignite controversy. The choice will be revealed on November 19.

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.


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