Netflix boss Ted Sarandos reacts to ‘Cuties’ criticism: ‘It’s a film that is very misunderstood’

Clémence Michallon
·2-min read
(Right to left) Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou, and Ilanah Cami-Goursolas in ‘Cuties' (Courtesy of Netflix)
(Right to left) Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou, and Ilanah Cami-Goursolas in ‘Cuties' (Courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has spoken out in defense of Cuties, a film he says has been “very misunderstood” by some audiences.

“It’s a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States," Sarandos said on Monday at the virtual Mipcom market, an industry event, according to Deadline.

He said Cuties “speaks for itself” and described it as a “very personal coming-of-age film” which “played very well at Sundance” as well as cinemas in Europe “without any of this controversy”.

“It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling,” Sarandos also stated.

Cuties, by director Maïmouna Doucouré, came out on Netflix in September after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, where Doucouré won the Directing award in the World Cinema Dramatic category.

The film tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old girl living in France, who joins a dance group. Soon, Amy is torn between her friends group and the conservative upbringing she receives from her mother and grandmother, who are of Senegalese descent.

Among the themes explored by the movie is the way our culture unfairly and inappropriately sexualises young girls. Both Netflix and Doucouré have firmly stated that it delivers a criticism of that culture, and many, including actor Tessa Thompson, have echoed that view.

Nonetheless, some, including Republican Senator Ted Cruz and other politicians, have accused Cuties of contributing to the very phenomenon it aims to denounce. A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, indicted Netflix over its distribution of the film last week.

A Netflix spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter at the time: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”

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