France’s Oscar selection committee today announced a shortlist of five films that are up for the country’s official submission to the International Feature Film category at the 2021 Academy Awards. That list includes the Sundance award-winning drama CUTIES, which at the start of its Netflix launch became the subject of online backlash due to a problematic early marketing campaign.
The film by directors Maïmouna Doucouré and Denny Shoopman centers around Amy, an 11-year-old girl, who joins a group of dancers named “the cuties” at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process. When the film arrived on Netflix and in French theaters, it did so alongside a poster that triggered intense reactions from people online, saying the image promoted the sexualization of children. Netflix worked quickly to replace the image and apologized for what the streamer referred to as an “inappropriate” and “not representative” promotional effort.
Despite Netflix’s efforts to remove the original poster, Cuties was placed under a microscope by both critics and casual streamers alike. Before long, many were sharing disturbing takes about the content of the film, thereby creating a series of narratives that side-stepped the film’s initial intentions of being a “social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson said.
Other films included on France’s list of five potential Oscar submissions include François Ozon’s coming-of-age drama Eté 85 (Summer Of 85), ADN (DNA), a historical drama from filmmaker Maiwenn, as well as Filippo Meneghetti’s dramedy Two of Us, and Gagarine, which serves as Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh’s feature-length directorial debut.
It’s too soon to tell if Cuties being considered for the Oscar will result in more backlash for Doucouré and Shoopman’s film, though if there is, I’m sure we’ll hear all about it on Twitter or Fox News, who covered the controversy extensively at the time.