- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Maïmouna Doucouré, director of the wildly controversial French film “Cuties (Mignonnes),” defended her film as “feminist” and said it exposes society’s sexualization of young children instead of promoting it, like many critics have argued.

“It’s because I saw so many things and so many issues around me lived by young girls, that I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say, ‘We need to protect our children,’” Ms. Doucouré told a Toronto Film Festival panel on French filmmakers Monday, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

“It’s bold, its feminist, but it’s so important and necessary to create debate and try to find solutions, for me as an artist, for politicians and parents,” she said. “It’s a real issue.”

The award-winning film, which debuted on Netflix last week, is a coming-of-age story that follows an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris who rebels against her conservative Muslim family and joins a dance clique of other 11-year-old girls called “the Cuties.” It shows the girls in several sexual situations and performing highly provocative dance moves in tight clothing, along with repeated and sustained close-up camera shots of their twerking rear ends.

Amid widespread calls for a boycott against Netflix, the streaming service has defended the film as a social commentary against the sexualization of children.

“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,” Netflix said in a statement Monday.

Ms. Doucouré also touted her film as allowing people of color to see themselves on the big screen.

“It’s important to see someone like you on the screen, and to grow up with a lot of possibilities,” she said, THR reported. “So, of course, diversity and inclusion have to be the keys to progress in our cinema.”

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