Variety reports that during a Q&A on Monday at the annual global content conference Mipcom, Sarandos said the U.S. has misinterpreted the movie’s meaning after the indictment alleged it “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
The Maïmouna Doucouré-directed film—which is called Mignonnes in French—tells the story of an 11-year-old Muslim girl living in Paris who rebels against her strict parents by joining a girl dance group.
“It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling,” he said. “It’s a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States. The film speaks for itself. 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.”
A grand jury in Tyler, Texas indicted Netflix on criminal charges for promoting content that “depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created.”
Netflix responded to the indictment, saying, “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
During the Q&A, Sarandos also clarified that Netflix didn’t alter Cuties in any way before it premiered in September. He wasn’t pressed about the marketing blunder that the streamer made in August, when it released a promotional image for the movie that many observers believed sexualized underage girls.