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#CancelNetflix campaign heats up over 'Cuties'

A first wave of criticism, in August, led Netflix to withdraw 'inappropriate' artwork used to promote the film, which was released in theaters that month in France.

A still image from the movie 'Mignonnes'. Picture: www.sundance.org/projects/cuties

NEW YORK - Thousands of people launched a call to boycott Netflix on Thursday over the French film Mignonnes - known as Cuties in English - angry that its young stars were portrayed in a sexualised way.

The film is directed by French-Senegalese director Maimouna Doucoure, and started streaming 9 September. More than 200,000 tweets with the hashtag "#CancelNetflix" became the top trending topic one day later.

A first wave of criticism, in August, led Netflix to withdraw "inappropriate" artwork used to promote the film, which was released in theaters that month in France.

Netflix also said it apologised for having used "inappropriate" images.

But on Thursday, broader opposition to some of the imagery came from across the political spectrum in the United States.

DeAnna Lorraine, a former Republican candidate for Congress from California, tweeted that "Child pornography is illegal in America."

"As the mother of an 8-year old girl, I STRONGLY support #CancelNetflix," added Beatrice Cardenas, another California Republican.

The film, which received a director's award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old Parisian, who must juggle the strict rules of her Senegalese family and social media's emphasis on appearance.

She joins a dance group formed by three other girls from her neighborhood, whose choreographies are sometimes suggestive.

"The hypersexualization of girls (and boys) is disgusting," tweeted Omar Navarro, another Republican politician. "It is morally and ethically reprehensible. Pedophiles, child rapists and perverts would have a great time with #Cuties."

Among the voices praising the movie were American actress Tessa Thompson (Creed, Avengers: Endgame), who found it "beautiful."

"It gutted me at @sundancefest," she went on.

"It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She's a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences.

"The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse. Disappointed to see how it was positioned in terms of marketing.

"I understand the response of everybody. But it doesn't speak to the film I saw."

A Netflix spokesperson said: "Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children.

"It's an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up, and we'd encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie."

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