It’s been two weeks since Netflix released and apologized for its disastrous U.S. poster for the French film Cuties. Now filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré says she received death threats because of the streaming service’s blunder.
“I received numerous attacks on my character from people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was apologetic about hypersexualization of children,” she told Deadline. “I also received numerous death threats.”
Doucouré’s debut feature Cuties was an award winner at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and received positive reviews from the public after it was released on Aug. 19 in French cinemas. However, Netflix, the film, and Doucouré faced backlash when the streamer released its poster the next day, which many criticized for sexualizing children. Netflix moved quickly to correct its mistake, creating new artwork that looked more like the French theatrical poster, and apologized for its “inappropriate” promotional effort, which it said wasn’t “representative” of the film.
But the damage was already done, at least online.
Doucouré explained that she hadn’t seen the artwork before Netflix debuted it online. “Things happened fairly quickly because, after the delays [due to the pandemic], I was completely concentrating on the film’s release in France. I discovered the poster as the same time as the American public,” she told Deadline. “My reaction? It was a strange experience. I hadn’t seen the poster until after I started getting all these reactions on social media, direct messages from people, attacks on me. I didn’t understand what was going on. That was when I went and saw what the poster looked like.”
Doucouré also stressed her obvious opinion that she’s against the hypersexualization of children. The director said she received overwhelming support after the negativity. She said those who had seen Cuties at Sundance and Berlin International Film Festival “really supported her” and helped emphasize the movie’s message. She said she’s also received “extraordinary support” from the French government, which will use the movie as an educational tool in her home country.
Doucouré added that Netflix’s original artwork was “not representative of the film and especially its message,” and explained that Netflix genuinely apologized to her. “We had several discussions back and forth after this happened. Netflix apologized publicly, and also personally to me,” she said. She revealed that Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos called her directly, though she wouldn’t disclose what they discussed.
She doesn’t hold any grudges against Netflix. “Streamers are a great way to get my stories out and share my messages with more people,” she said.
The director told the outlet that she’s currently working on another project for a streaming platform, but she won’t say if it’s Netflix or a different service. She’s also working on a film set in North America and Africa.
Cuties tells the story of a pre-teen girl who’s pulled between two cultures: her conservative family and the liberal atmosphere among her French school friends who are influenced by social media and the internet.