Maïmouna Doucouré’s feature film debut has provoked a firestorm of controversy. The story of Cuties (Mignonnes) began favorably. The French-Senegalese director picked up the Directing Award at Sundance, landing a deal with Netflix for an amplified international release, and enjoyed a broadly acclaimed release in her home of France. Then the Netflix marketing arm spun the controversy out of proportion — they have since recorded record-high cancelation figures and the film has become a hotbed for online debate about the exploitation of children in film. Cuties is more than the controversy, a story about precocious youthful rebellion against conservative parents, what it means to be Black and Muslim, and finding out what truly matters in life. It’s an uncomfortable film, to be sure, but one adamantly against what it’s accused of promoting. We’re proud to present an in-depth chat with our friend Renee, who brings her own deeply personal perspectives to the coming of age story.