Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Netflix over Cuties (Mignonnes)

[Image: Netflix] Medina El Aidi (Angelica) & Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi (Amy)

Cuties (Mignonnes)

Cuties (Mignonnes) is an award-winning French film written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré.

It tells the story of an 11-year-old Muslim girl who just moved with her family to France from Senegal. At her new school, she observes an energetic group of girls dancing. Eager to fit in, Amy makes friends with them and quickly learns their modest dance moves. They want to enter a dance competition and Amy is convinced that adding provocative choreography like the kind she has seen in music videos will help them win.

Controversy

You may have heard about the recent backlash on social media with thousands of people urging others to join them in canceling their Netflix subscriptions because of the film’s content.

Suddenly, everyone was calling the film pornographic due to scenes with sexually suggestive dance moves (“twerking”). They were worried that the movie, rated TV-MA for mature audiences, would attract pedophiles.

Many others took offense at the film’s promotional posters.

While the poster for Mignonnes (the name of the film in the original French version) shows 11-year-old girls laughing and smiling after an apparent shopping spree, the poster for Cuties features the same 11-year-old girls posing suggestively and wearing revealing clothing.

My thoughts

No need to cancel your Netflix subscription over this film. Don’t judge a film by its promotional poster.

The way I see it, the film does not endorse the behavior; it’s only a small part of the bigger story of how we try to shape our identities in order to fit in.

The suggestive dancing scenes are brief – no more than a total of 3 minutes throughout the entire film, which has a running time of 96 minutes.

The provocative dancing by young girls is one thing. But I’m more troubled by other things in the film. For instance, there are depictions of child neglect, gun violence, playing dead, physical violence (hitting, pushing, slapping), bullying, body shaming, bulimia, voyeurism, catfishing, stealing, and lying.

I wasn’t expecting any of those things, but I’m glad I decided to watch the contentious film anyway. I’m also glad I decided to watch it with my own 11-year-old daughter.

While there were a few scenes — including one involving a selfie — that made us gasp in shock, my daughter told me that she liked the film’s message in the end: you don’t have to change yourself just to be liked.

One thing is certain. This film will spark challenging discussions, especially between parents and their children. How can that be a bad thing?

More information

Cuties (Mignonnes) received the Directing Award/World Cinema Dramatic at the 2020 Sundance International Film Festival & the Special Jury Mention at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival/Generation Kplus.

Watch the Cuties (Mignonnes) Trailer here.

Watch the “Why I Made Cuties” interview with Maïmouna Doucouré here.

A Film About Friendship: “Nous finirons ensemble”

from Trésor Films | UniFrance

On the 10-hour flight home from my recent trip to Europe (in February 2020 – before the pandemic), I watched four movies including a French comedy-drama called, Nous finirons ensemble (“We’ll end up together”). Its title in English is Little White Lies 2 and it’s the sequel to Les petits mouchoirs, which was released in 2010.

The sequel starts with the same group of friends from the original surprising their friend, Max, by showing up at his beach house on his birthday.

Well, the surprise was on them.

It turns out that Max (played by François Cluvet) has a secret weighing heavily on his mind. Understandably, he was in no mood to party.

As the film progresses, each of the other characters reveals a little secret about themselves.

I won’t give away details, but I will say that I liked Marion Cotillard’s performance as rebellious Marie and Tatiana Gousseff’s role as Catherine, the strict nanny.

I also love the movie’s soundtrack, which includes throwbacks like, “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper.

Do you tell little white lies?

Before my trip, I told very few people about my travel plans. Is that a little white lie? Some would call it “lying by omission.” Others would describe this as “moving in silence.” These expressions sound so sneaky and deceptive, don’t they?

It wasn’t (and never is) my intention to be a stealthy or secretive ninja or anything like that. I’m not overly superstitious, but in my experience, plans fall through when I speak of them, especially at the ideation stage!

Besides, isn’t it a much better feeling to say “I did it” than to say “I’m going to do it”? Actions speak louder than words.

Speaking of taking action, I’d say go watch Nous finirons ensemble. You don’t need to have seen the original to enjoy this one. It’s a movie about friendship — and all the good, messy, and funny parts that come with it.

The skydiving scenes looked fun, too.

Oh no, have I said too much?

🎞 Watch the film’s trailer (with English subtitles) on YouTube here >> Little White Lies 2 / Nous finirons ensemble (2019) – Trailer (English Subs)

As of this writing, this film is available to stream on iTunes and canalplus.com

Going Virtual: The 19th Sacramento French Film Festival

POSTER 2020
© Sacramento French Film Festival

 

[Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Thanks to the Sacramento French Film Festival for giving me a complimentary Festival Pass. The opinions expressed in this blog post are based on my personal views, as always.]

Bonjour and happy Friday!

Just in time for the weekend, the virtual edition of the 19th Sacramento French Film Festival (SFFF) starts today, Friday, June 19 and ends on Sunday, June 28, 2020.

Many years ago, I lived in the Sacramento, California area when I was an undergraduate student at UC Davis. I was double-majoring in international relations and French — how I wish this French film festival had been around then!

Established in 2002, the SFFF began as a 6-day film festival. This year, they’re showing 10 films in 10 days. As we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and practicing physical distancing, the festival is going virtual.

That means that everyone can join the festival from anywhere in the United States!

According to the SFFF website, the festival “brings people together around films and French culture in a festive atmosphere. [It] celebrates the artistic, cultural, social, and historical values of films. It fosters friendly relations between American and French people through the universal language of art.”

Festival supporting sponsor, Patrice Peyret adds, “This gives anyone interested in French culture an opportunity to see exclusive and recent French movies (with English subtitles) without having to travel to Sacramento.”

Here are the 10 films that will be shown (virtually):

Friday, June 19, 2020: The Mystery of Henri Pick (Le Mystère Henri Pick)

Vacationing on the coast of Brittany with her writer boyfriend, a young and ambitious publishing executive, Daphné visits the “Library of Refused Books.”

Saturday, June 20, 2020: Alice and the Mayor (Alice et le maire)

The mayor of Lyon, France’s second-biggest city, is going through an existential crisis: after 30 years in politics, he is running on empty, out of ideas. His staff brings a brilliant young philosopher to fix his problems.

Sunday, June 21, 2020: Gloria Mundi

A drama about generational divide and the gig economy.

Monday, June 22, 2020: My Dog Stupid (Mon chien Stupide)

A comedy about a writer facing a mid-life crisis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020: The Dazzled (Les Éblouis)

Based on a true story of a young woman whose parents’ devotion to the Catholic community grows increasingly fanatical.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020: #Iamhere (#jesuislà)

A prominent French chef with two adult sons and an ex-wife, falls in love with a woman from South Korea. While trying to reach her on Instagram #jesuislà (#Iamhere), he becomes a social media sensation.

Thursday, June 25, 2020: Camille

A biography about Camille Lepage, the 26-year-old photojournalist who was killed while covering the civil war in the Central African Republic between Muslim fighters (the Séléka) and Christian militias (the anti-balaka).

Friday, June 26, 2020: Fishlove (Poissonsexe)

A biologist is part of a small team in charge of mating the last couple of fish in the world.

Friday, June 26, 2020: Arab Blues (Un Divan à Tunis)

A Tunis-born psychotherapist who, having lived in Paris since age 10, has just returned to her homeland to start her practice.

Friday, June 26, 2020: Oh Mercy! (Roubaix, une lumière)

Two police officers solve cases in different ways in Roubaix, a city in the north of France.

Looks like there’s a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. I’m looking forward to watching #Iamhere, Camille, and Arab Blues.

How the Virtual Film Festival Works

Individual films can be rented for $12. After you’ve rented a film, you have 3 days (72 hours) to watch it. Once you’ve started watching a film, you can view it as many times as you want for 30 hours. A new film is made available to view each day beginning Friday, June 19 until Thursday, June 25. On Friday, June 26, the final three films will be made available so that you can watch them during the weekend.

There’s a discount when you purchase a Festival Pass, which will give you access to all 10 films as they are made available.

You can also chat with festival organizers and film directors by signing up to attend any of the virtual Q&A sessions on Zoom.

Allons-y! (Let’s go!)

To rent a film or purchase your Festival Pass, go to 2020 Sacramento French Film Festival TODAY!

[Updated: June 25, 2020]