French film Cuties, which caused a controversy in the USA over a tasteless poster, is one of five films of France’s shortlist for the Oscars.
French film Cuties, which caused a controversy in the USA over a tasteless poster, is one of five films on France’s shortlist for the Oscars. Known as Mignonnes in its native country, the movie is a coming-of-age tale about the daughter of Senegalese immigrants in France who struggles to navigate internet culture and balance that against her traditional Muslim family values. Despite earning plaudits in France, the movie was met with controversy in the USA, mainly due to Netflix’s poster for its release, which sexualized the pre-teen actors in the film.
The fallout from that poster went further than the streaming service anticipated, with a campaign emerging for outraged audiences to cancel their Netflix subscriptions. This social media-led effort saw a spike in cancellations. Director Maïmouna Doucouré, who had no hand in the poster and crafted a far more nuanced movie than the online discussion suggested, even received death threats from those who were part of the campaign. Ironically, Doucouré said that many of those attacking her hadn’t bothered to watch the film and were merely reacting to the poster.
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Now, the controversy is once again set to flare up, with Deadline reporting that Cuties is on a shortlist of five films from France, which are being considered for submission to the Oscars. A selection committee will use the shortlist to choose France’s official submission for the International Feature Film award at the 2021 Oscars. That means Cuties, competing alongside Eté 85 (Summer Of 85), ADN (DNA) Two Of Us, and Gagarine is still a long way from consideration for the award. The committee would first have to select it for submission to the Academy, who would then have to consider it among several submissions from all around the world.
As such, at this point, the chances of Cuties making it on to the final nomination list for the Oscars remains low, but the fact it’s on France’s shortlist alone is sure to cause more controversy. Those who were outraged by the poster without bothering to watch the film are also unlikely to dig deeper into the announcement and will probably have a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps calling out the Academy this time. Hopefully, the committee puts the controversy aside and judges the films on the shortlist according to their merits.
Suppose Cuties does get through to the Oscars, though. In that case, it’s unlikely to be as successful as 2020’s Best International Film winner, Parasite, which also claimed Best Picture and Best Director for Bong Joon-Ho, as well as Best Original Screenplay. Regardless, it’s unclear whether Cuties will even clear this first hurdle at this early stage, so those who are preparing to be outraged will have to wait a little longer before starting up the hashtag again. The French Oscars committee is set to make its decision on November 19.
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