'Cuties' aka 'Mignonnes' Preview: Controversial French film takes a page out of every dance-loving girl's life
A story about 11-year-old immigrant girl named Amy and her coming-of-age journey won thousands of hearts at nearly 200 festivals across the globe
When the Fresh-Senegalese film 'Cuties' (aka 'Mignonnes') first premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2020, in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section, it was rewarded for its unique, heartwarming coming-of-age story. The debutante director of the movie, Maïmouna Doucouré, also won the Directing Award.
A story about an 11-year-old immigrant girl named Amy and her coming-of-age journey won thousands of hearts at nearly 200 festivals winning over 60 awards across the globe. As Amy waits for her father to join her family of two brothers and mother in the poor neighborhood of Paris, she finds herself fascinated by her neighbor's twerking dance group called Cuties. She wishes to join it but not before starting a war with her orthodox mother, who holds traditional customs, values and traditions
It is when 'Cuties' was acquired by streaming giant Netflix that it sent waves of disagreement and disapproval. With a sensitive subject at the heart of it — young girls growing against the backdrop of sexuality controlled by old values, at the same time being inundated by ideas of hypersexuality — it is hardly any surprise that the movie upset a large audience.
Many called out Netflix for hypersexualizing young girls with its promo material. "It is so revealing that the first major @netflix original to centre young Black girls hinges on explicitly sexualizing 11-year-old children," a Twitter user wrote. "Whether it's acting or music, a sexualized image is too often the price of mainstream success for Black women & girls. Disgraceful," tweets along these lines started doing the rounds on social media.
It is so revealing that the first major @netflix original to centre young Black girls hinges on explicitly sexualising 11 year old children. Whether it’s acting or music, a sexualised image is too often the price of mainstream success for Black women & girls. Disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/18ItsgIZLb— Sister Outrider (@ClaireShrugged) August 20, 2020
It must be noted, however, that Doucouré's intentions with her debut directorial venture was to bring to fore this exact issue with young girls growing up in a hypersexualized environment. In an interview, she points out how she found herself shocked when confronted with the reality of pre-pubescent girls and their relationship with their bodies. "The day I saw, at a neighborhood party, a group of young girls aged around 11 years old, going up on stage and dancing in a very sensual way while wearing very revealing clothes. I was rather shocked and I wondered if they were aware of the image of sexual availability that they were projecting. In the audience, there were also more traditional mothers, some of them wearing veils: it was a real culture shock," she had said.
Starring Fathia Youssouf as Amy, Médina El Aidi-Azouni as Angelica, Esther Gohourou as Coumba, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas as Jess, Myriam Hamma as Yasmine, Mbissine Therese Diop as the aunt, Demba Diaw as Ismael, Mamadou Samaké as Samba and Maïmouna Gueye as Mariam, the mother, the movie is worth looking forward to.
While most Netflix viewers find themselves upset with the movie, it is important to see Amy, Angelica and the rest of their troupe in their element — that is if one is genuinely keen to know better. "This ('Cuties') isn't a health & safety ad. This is most of all an uncompromising portrait of an 11-year-old girl plunged in a world that imposes a series of dictates on her."
'Cuties' arrives on Netflix on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Regardless of all the backlash it has been receiving since the poster and the trailer release, you mustn't miss watching such a movie. 'Cuties' is not telling a fictional story that is angering its audiences. The story stems from a very real, honest portrayal of our society. "For a year and a half, I stopped groups of young girls in the street, sometimes in schools or when organizations opened their doors to me. I recorded them or filmed them when I had their parents’ authorization, and I gathered their stories to find out where they situated themselves as children, as girls, as future women; how they placed themselves in society with their girlfriends, their families, at school, with social networks. All these stories fed into the writing of 'Cuties'."