Maïmouna Doucouré, the director of the new movie “Cuties,” says she received numerous death threats after Netflix mistakenly botched the release of her debut film with an “inappropriate” promotional poster.
The backlash against Doucouré’s film began last month when Netflix started ramping up promotion for its Sept. 9 U.S. release at the same time the film premiered overseas. The streaming giant’s U.S. promotional poster showed four pre-teen girls striking dance poses that led to more than 20,000 people signing a petition demanding Netflix remove the film.
Several shocked Twitter users deemed the poster “revealing” and claimed it was guilty of “explicitly sexualizing” the girls, who reportedly portray 11-year-olds in the film. The pile-on resulted in the film receiving a bad rap despite Netflix issuing an apology to confirm it was not representative of the movie’s message.
“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” a Netflix spokesperson told FOX Business at the time. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film, which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
In an interview following the poster scandal, Doucouré told Deadline that Netflix’s poster resulted in a slew of rage-filled and violent comments coming her way.
“I received numerous attacks on my character from people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was apologetic about hypersexualization of children,” she told the outlet. “I also received numerous death threats.”
The director added that she had not seen the promotional poster for the U.S. version ahead of time.
“I discovered the poster at the same time as the American public,” she reveals. “My reaction? It was a strange experience. I hadn’t seen the poster until after I started getting all these reactions on social media, direct messages from people, attacks on me. I didn’t understand what was going on. That was when I went and saw what the poster looked like.”
Fortunately for Doucouré, those who have since seen the film confirmed the poster did not accurately represent the movie. She’s since received some “extraordinary support” from viewers who saw it at Sundance and in Berlin, she told the outlet.
According to IMDB, “Cuties” follows an 11-year-old girl named Amy, played by Fathia Youssouf, who joins a group of dancers named “the cuties.” The pre-teen “grows aware of her burgeoning feminity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process,” it states.
According to Deadline, the director emphasized that she, and the movie’s actual message, does not approve of the hypersexualization of children. Still, Doucouré credited Netflix for its extensive apologies.
“We had several discussions back and forth after this happened. Netflix apologized publicly, and also personally to me,” she says.
She said she even received a phone call from Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who also apologized for the error.
Doucouré added that the movie’s plot is based around her life in addition to “the story of many children who have to navigate between a liberal Western culture and a conservative culture at home.”
She concluded: “I actually hope that those who haven’t seen it, will see it, and I can’t wait to see their reaction,” she asserts. “Hopefully they will understand that we’re actually on the same side of this battle. If we join forces, we could make a big change in this world that hypersexualizes children.”