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Netflix just released one of 2020’s most controversial movies – and it’s already banned in one country

Published Sep 11th, 2020 9:12AM EDT
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  • Netflix’s September 2020 releases list is packed full of big premieres, including some of the most hotly anticipated original Netflix films of the year.
  • Mixed in with all the high-profile productions is an award-winning movie called Cuties that has become one of the most controversial films of 2020.
  • The movie was just released by Netflix this past week — and it has already been banned in at least one country.

After what was a woefully slow August compared to the normal rapid pace of hotly anticipated original productions from Netflix, September is definitely turning things around. This month is packed from start to finish with exciting new original content from Netflix, including some of the biggest premieres of the season. Highlights include the new Charlie Kaufman movie I’m Thinking of Ending Things starring Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons, Away starring Hillary Swank as an astronaut on the first manned mission to Mars, The Gift season 2, Ratched starring Sarah Paulson, and Criminal UK season 2. On top of that, two of the most noteworthy original Netflix movie premieres of 2020 are coming this month: Enola Holmes starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill, and The Devil All the Time starring Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson.

Mixed in with all those big-budget productions and eagerly awaited shows is a Netflix original film that has been getting plenty of attention for all the wrong reasons. Cuties burst onto the scene as a powerful, award-winning independent French film. Now it has been mired in controversy — even banned in one country — and the fault lies entirely with Netflix. Cuties was finally just released after a tumultuous couple of weeks, so now Netflix subscribers can see what all the fuss was about.

Cuties was written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, who even won a Sundance Film Festival award for her direction of the film. It stars Fathia Youssouf as a young girl in Senegal growing up in a strict Muslim family. Despite the family’s traditional values, the 11-year-old joins a modern dance group called “the cuties.” It’s a coming of age story that may be a bit racy at times given the context, but Netflix made some serious missteps in marketing the film and ended up turning it into one of the year’s most controversial movies.

Netflix’s promotion of Cuties has been viewed by many as hyper-sexualizing young minors, and it all started with the first poster that Netflix released for the film:

Image source: Netflix

The poster instantly caused a stir, and the ensuing uproar detracted from the premiere of what many critics have said is a wonderful and moving film. Netflix ended up releasing a statement and creating new marketing materials for the movie. “We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” Netflix said. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and Cuties was being talked about for all the wrong reasons. The controversy even mounted to the point where the country of Turkey banned the film. As Reuters reported earlier this month, Netflix has been ordered to block the film’s release in the country.

Cuties has now been released in the US and other markets despite all the hubbub, and people who manage to tune out the controversy appear to be quite impressed with the film. Netflix subscribers can stream the movie on Netflix’s site, and the Cuties trailer is embedded below.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.