Speaking during the Mipcom global content conference on Monday, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos expressed dismay over censorship efforts in the U.S. around the streamer’s distribution of the French film “Cuties.”
In addition to a subscription boycott push and efforts by some conservative U.S. senators to get the Justice Department to prosecute Netflix over the film, it has come out in the past few days that a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas actually did hand down such an indictment late last month.
Netflix has repeatedly explained that the film, directed by Sundance award-winner Maïmouna Doucouré and telling the story of an 11-year-old Sengalese Muslim girl, is actually “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”
However, the company misstepped prior to the film’s September Netflix release, when it used provocative images from the movie in a promotion campaign — images it quickly retracted and apologized for.
Yesterday, Sarandos again defended the film, saying it is “very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States.” The film “speaks for itself,” he added. “It’s a very personal coming of age film, it’s the director’s story and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy and played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy.”
“It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling,” Sarandos stressed.
The Texas grand jury indictment charges Netflix with “Promotion Of Lewd Visual Material Depicting A Child,” and claims that the movie “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
The film won Doucouré a global filmmaking award when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017.