“A movie that makes you feel less like a spectator than a guest, a friend welcomed into the home of an odd and fascinating couple.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Cutie and the Boxer premieres Friday, September 18, 2015, at 10 PM on PBS stations.
Cutie and the Boxer is a love story, an art story, a family story and a New York City story—all of them weird, funny and a little heartbreaking. It’s a Japanese story, too. As a young artist in Tokyo in the 1960’s, Ushio Shinohara was a rowdy avant-garde painter destined for fame and fortune. Seeking international recognition, he moved to New York City in 1969. Four years later, at age 41, he met 19-year-old Noriko, who had made her own journey from rural Japan to New York in pursuit of her artistic ambitions. The stage was set for love and art to blossom. But something went awry on the road to a bright future.
“This film started about seven years ago, when I first met Ushio and Noriko Shinohara,” says filmmaker Zachary Heinzerling. “I knew something special was there. Ushio is 83 years old, but has the energy and hunger for life of someone a tenth his age. Noriko exudes a calming grace and sly wit, perfectly complementing Ushio’s raucous nature. They live in a space that acts as a shrine to their storied existence: floors coated with years of old paint, drawings stacked on top of paintings on top of books, photos tacked to the walls hinting at past fame. I was immediately engrossed in their colorful world, where the lines between art and life were completely blurred.
“Career disappointments, gender roles, marriage, aging—these are all issues we encounter in adulthood. One of the biggest challenges was to shed light on the love the two artists undoubtedly have for one another, even if they rarely express it directly. I hope that audiences will recognize themselves in Ushio and Noriko’s story and consider their own relationships. My goal is to absorb the audience in the raw spirit and beauty that emanates from my subjects, to open a door onto the creative and very private world where the rhythms of the Shinoharas’ lives play out.”
Visit the POV companion site for Cutie and the Boxer to watch the full film online for free for a limited time following the broadcast (starting September 19, 2015), find out what’s happened since the cameras stopped rolling, and download a discussion guide and other viewing resources. Share your thoughts and ask questions by using the hashtag #CutieandtheBoxer