Netflix is increasingly expanding into making works for different cultures every year but a new one called Perfect Strangers is receiving intense pushback and a generally divided response online from its targeted audience of subscribers.
In an article filed earlier today, The Hollywood Reporter detailed the backlash their first original Arabic feature has received from conservatives in MENA (Middle East and North African) countries. The piece – a remake of an Italian movie of the same name – features a group of friends in Lebanon who decide to make all their calls and text messages available to each other during an evening as a form of entertainment. Secrets are revealed, a gay character is featured and a woman played by actress Mona Zaki removes her underwear in one scene, though there is no nudity presented on screen.
Lawyer Ayman Mahfouz has called on Egypt’s censors to ban the piece and revealed plans to file a lawsuit against those who made it for “promoting homosexuality”, but Daily News Egypt has reported this is not possible due to the film being a Lebanese production and on a streaming service. The head of the Censorship Authority for Artistic Works, Khaled Abdel Jalil also said it did not ask for screening in Egypt and would be “subject to terms” if this was requested.
Elsewhere politician Mustafa Bakri, a member of the Egyptian House of Representatives has called it a “betrayal” but many online have rallied in favour of the production. Actor Amr Waked, who has appeared in Syriana, even posted a tweet saying “anyone who is afraid a movie can change faith does not have faith.”
Perfect Strangers is not yet available Netflix in the U.S.