L’ARP (La Société civile des Auteurs-Réalisateurs-Producteurs), France’s authors, directors, and producers guild, issued a statement September 15 defending the controversial release of the Netflix original movie “Cuties.” The film has become a national talking point following its September 9 release over accusations it sexualizes child actors and promotes child pornography. L’ARP says the backlash over “Cuties” is a “grave attack on freedom of creation” being fueled by “the most conservative of Americans” (via Variety).
“At a time when the most conservative of Americans are calling for a boycott of the film ‘Cuties,’ we would like to support its director, Maimouna Doucouré, who won the Best Direction award at the Sundance Film Festival,” an official L’ARP statement reads. “This film, produced in France, then bought by Netflix for distribution in the United States, is emblematic of the indispensable freedom of expression that cinema, in all its diversity, needs to address disturbing topics, therefore it’s necessary for the exercise of democracy. We will always stand with those who support and disseminate works expressing this freedom.”
Outrage over “Cuties” erupted August 20 after Netflix debuted a poster for the film that featured its child stars making suggestive dance poses in revealing outfits. The poster led to accusations the film sexualizes its stars, when in reality “Cuties” openly criticizes the ways in which society puts pressure on young girls to be overtly sexual.
Netflix apologized for inappropriately marketing the film, but the September 9 streaming debut of “Cuties” resulted in more outrage. Senator Ted Cruz sent a letter to the Department of Justice over the weekend asking for Netflix to be investigated over the production and distribution of child pornography. David Grumbach is the CEO of Bac Films, the French finance and distribution company behind “Cuties,” and he tells Variety that it’s “scandalous to accuse us of promoting child pornography.”
“I think the protests are coming from the right wing — from a fringe of ultra conservatism,” Grumbach said. “But we’re grateful that Netflix [kept] the film [on its platform] and has supported it despite everything. We must be strong and united to protect the freedom of filmmakers. It’s not just for France, but also for Hollywood.”
Grumbach continued, “Think about Jodie Foster who was 12 when she played a prostitute in ‘Taxi Driver,’ or the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ or the countless other movies that would have been boycotted if we caved to this kind of conservatism. We wouldn’t be able to make movies about abortion, violence, etc. because to denounce something, you need to show it.”
“Cuties” filmmaker Maimouna Doucouré reacted to the backlash last week in an interview with Zora magazine, saying, “I realize that the people who have started this controversy haven’t yet seen the film. Netflix has apologized to the public and to myself. I’m hoping that these people will watch the movie now that it’s out. I’m eager to see their reaction when they realize that we’re both on the same side of this fight against young children’s hypersexualization.”
“Cuties” is now streaming on Netflix.