French cinema organization UniFrance, which is backed by the French government and represents hundreds of local producers, sales agents, directors and talent agents, has sent out a memo to industry expressing its support for filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré and her film Cuties after the social media frenzy sparked by a Netflix poster for the film. Scroll down for the message in full.
UniFrance said today that it “offers its full support” to the director and the film’s French producers and noted “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 Maïmouna Doucouré and to reaffirm their commitment to supporting the freedom of artistic creation and expression.”
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The passionate defence continues: “Furthermore, we consider that the call to boycott the film and to have it removed from the Netflix catalogue, in addition to the hate messages, insults, and unfounded speculations about the intent of the director and her producers, pose a serious threat to the very space that cinema seeks to open up: a space of discussion, reflection, and of helping us to see beyond our own preconceived ideas.”
In a detailed talk with us earlier this month, filmmaker Doucouré revealed that she had received death threats following the backlash against Netflix’s poster design for her acclaimed Sundance film, a coming-of-age story about a girl who joins a group of dancers in rebellion against her conservative upbringing.
The streamer quickly changed the artwork, which it acknowledged to be a marketing blunder, but not before outrage spread like wildfire online with many conflating the artwork and the film.
In recent days, the drama has been caught up in apparent pre-election culture war skirmishes with several members of Congress weighing in on the French-language film, calling for its removal from Netflix or for a Justice Department investigation.
You can read UniFrance’s statement below:
UniFrance, the association whose mission is to promote French cinema around the world, wishes to express on behalf of all of its members its full support for Maïmouna Doucouré, director of the film Cuties, as well as her producer Zangro and the distribution team at Bac Films.
Since the launch of Cuties at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received an enthusiastic response from audiences, the media, and American industry professionals alike, and where Doucouré won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award, UniFrance has supported and closely monitored the film’s impressive international career. Also honored at the Berlinale with a Special Mention from the Generation Kplus jury and selected at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in New York, Maïmouna Doucouré was named as one of the “10 French Talents to Watch” in 2020, a group of rising talents chosen for UniFrance by four international journalists, announced on September 11, 2020. In addition, Maïmouna Doucouré was granted the 2019 Academy Gold Fellowship for Women by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as part of a partnership established between France and the AMPAS some years ago. For the film’s release in France, it was authorized as suitable for all audiences.
Cuties offers a subtle and sophisticated denunciation of the hyper-sexualization of a young generation who translate and reproduce the images that inundate them in their daily lives, particularly via social media. Whether we are spectators, parents, teenagers, producers, or distributors, this film invites us to reflect on the power of these images and the complexity of the constant dialogue between young people and the generation of their parents. This film appeals to our sense of discernment, be that on an individual or a collective level, and calls on us to assume our responsibilities.
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 Maïmouna Doucouré 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.
UniFrance’s purpose is to promote French artists and their films to international audiences. When Maïmouna Doucouré invites and encourages us to reflect on social issues, it is therefore of essential importance to UniFrance that her work is able to travel the globe and to speak freely without the risk of receiving threats in all of the countries and regions in which her film is shown. It is crucial that this space of artistic creation and distribution is preserved, not only for this young filmmaker but also for all artists around the world. This is a battle to defend freedom and diversity.
Furthermore, we consider that the call to boycott the film and to have it removed from the Netflix catalogue, in addition to the hate messages, insults, and unfounded speculations about the intent of the director and her producers, pose a serious threat to the very space that cinema seeks to open up: a space of discussion, reflection, and of helping us to see beyond our own preconceived ideas.