Netflix has said it is standing by the controversial film Cuties after it emerged the streaming giant is facing a criminal charge in Texas over the movie’s alleged “lewd” depiction of children.
Cuties follows an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris who rebels against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a “free-spirited dance crew”.
Critics have accused the film, which is streaming on Netflix, of sexualising children. A petition was launched calling for people to boycott Netflix over the movie.
A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, has indicted the company on the charge of “promotion of lewd visual material depicting child”.
The indictment says Cuties appeals to the “prurient interest in sex” and the material holds “no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”.
Netflix has once again defended the film. A representative told the PA news agency: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
Following the initial backlash, the company encouraged people to watch the movie before passing judgment.
Writer-director Maimouna Doucoure said she considers it to be “a deeply feminist film with an activist message” that is a “mirror of today’s society, a mirror sometimes difficult to look into”.
She said she got the idea after seeing a group of 11-year-old girls dancing in a way “you would see in a video clip” during a neighbourhood gathering in Paris.
The director said she spent the next year and a half meeting with hundreds of pre-teens to learn about how they felt about their femininity in today’s society, and how they felt about their self-image in the era of social media.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, where Doucoure won the world cinema dramatic directing award.