France’s Oscar selection committee today set a shortlist of five films that are in contention to be the country’s official submission to the International Feature Film category at the 2021 Academy Awards. Among the titles is Cuties, the Sundance award-winning debut drama from Maïmouna Doucouré that was well-received in France when it released this summer, but also was collaterally involved in an online backlash spurred by Netflix’s early marketing campaign.
Bac Films released Cuties in France while Netflix began rollout elsewhere on September 9. The story follows Amy, an 11-year-old girl who joins a group of dancers named “The Cuties” at school, and who rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity — upsetting her mother and her values.
A poster released by Netflix at the same time as the French theatrical rollout, in a bid to begin promoting the movie ahead of its streaming debut, provoked a furious online backlash from people who criticized it for sexualizing children. Netflix quickly switched out the offending poster for new artwork and apologized for what it called an “inappropriate” and “not representative” promotional effort. Doucouré spoke to Deadline about the ordeal in September.
Also on France’s list of five potential Oscar submissions today is François Ozon’s coming-of-age drama Eté 85 (Summer Of 85) which performed strongly at the local box office after being released in mid-July. Ozon’s hit musical 8 Women is the prolific director’s only film to have been chosen as the French rep.
Rounding out the selections is ADN (DNA), a historical drama from filmmaker Maiwenn, of 2011’s acclaimed Polisse; as well as festival comedy/drama Two Of Us from Filippo Meneghetti; and Gagarine, a first-time feature from Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh.
The Oscar selection committee will reconvene on November 19 to decide on the final submission. The committee is made up of industry professionals including filmmakers Mati Diop and Olivier Nakache; producers Marc du Pontavice and Anne-Dominique Toussaint; and sales agents Carole Barton and Juliette Schrameck; as well as Cannes Fest chief Thierry Frémaux, Unifrance President Serge Toubiana and César Academy President Véronique Cayla.