Netflix has bought world rights, excluding France, to Maimouna Doucouré’s debut feature “Cuties,” which has its world premiere in Sundance’s 2020 World Cinema Dramatic Competition, and will then screen in the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus section.
The pic, playing under the Netflix brand, will be translated into more than 40 languages, and screened in the streamer’s 190 territories. In France, it will be released on April 1 by Bac Films, which is handling French rights.
“Cuties” is about the hyper-sexualization of pre-adolescent girls. It follows an 11-year-old girl of Senegalese origin, living in one of Paris’ poorest neighborhoods, who is raised in a pious tradition, but joins a group of young dancers who hope to twerk their way to stardom.
Doucouré’s previous short film, “Maman(s),” about a girl being raised by two mothers in a polygamous family, was selected by nearly 200 festivals and won more than 60 awards, including best short at Sundance, Toronto and at the Césars. She won Sundance’s Global Filmmaking Award in 2017 for the “Cuties” script.
In 2019, Doucouré was granted the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which includes a €20,000 ($22,260) grant, mentoring advice and an invitation to the 2020 Academy Awards ceremony.
The $4 million “Cuties” is produced by Bien ou Bien Productions, based in Bordeaux, in the South of France, and was co-produced with @France 3 CINEMA. Other production credits are CNC-Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée, Région Ile-de-France, Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France Télévisions, Canal Plus, CINE Plus, Sacem, Bac Films, and Procirep.
Bien ou Bien Productions is run by Zangro, who grew up between Spain and Morocco, before moving to France at the age of 16. In 2018 he received the Young Producer Prize 2018 from France Télévisions and in 2019 was named by Variety as one of Ten Producers to Watch.
Zangro produced “Cuties” and “Maman(s)” with Doucouré, and they are now preparing her first English-language feature.
He also directs, and has built up a cluster of filmmaking talent around a project titled “Ramdam,” set in a Muslim community in the South of France, which began as a weekly series of three-minute Internet sketches, with more than 35 million views, evolved into a pilot for a TV series, which won best series award at the Festival de la Fiction, La Rochelle in 2017, and the project is now a 90-minute TV movie co-produced by Arte.