“Cuties” director Maïmouna Doucouré says her film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last Thursday, mirrors her experience as a young girl, when she wanted to be a boy because of the “injustices” towards women she saw around her.
“I was born in France, I grew up there and this movie is about a lot of traditions I saw when I was young, because when I was a child, my dream was to be a boy,” Doucouré told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at the festival. “I didn’t want to be a girl because of a lot of injustices I saw around me. Because of that, I was praying [to] God at 6, 7 years old to make me a boy. I saw that the world could be better and easier as a guy.”
She added, “I grew up in both cultures — my parents are from Senegal and I also have the Western culture. I was often torn between both as a woman. Today, I’m fine, I am happy to be a girl of course, but we have a fight to change the mentality of people about the place of women in society, and the movie is about how to become a woman in our society because it’s a bit complicated.”
“Cuties” is about a young, French-African girl who joins a group of dancers at her school called “the cuties,” and she quickly becomes aware of her blossoming femininity. However, this upsets her mother, and her values, in the process.
Doucouré said she wanted to explore the question of whether we should “have the right to choose which women we can be in this world” or not.
“In our culture, even today, I can say I’m not totally free,” she said. “Because I love to wear short dresses and at the same time, when I go to a religious ceremony, I wear a veil. Just choose as a woman: who do you want to be?”
“Cuties” stars Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas, Demba Diaw and Medina El Aidi. It will debut in France on April 1.
Watch the video above.