Zachary Heinzerling: Cutie and the Boxer

I watched this film online (on the excellent idfa “docs for sale”) today after it had been announced as one of the nominees for the Oscar award in the feature documentary category.

The film that runs theatrically in the US now, has this description on the Oscar site (link below): ”The 40-year marriage of painter Ushio Shinohara, known for his boxing paintings, and his wife, Noriko, who gave up her own career as an artist to focus on her husband, has become the subject of a series of comic strips drawn by Noriko. As the 80-year-old Ushio finds his own artistic reputation fading, Noriko’s fame continues to grow.”

… and it is a very good film, a charming and touching visit to the home and studios of the two, Ushio who is 80 years old and Noriko, who is around 20 years younger, and who is the one who has been suffering from her husband’s heavy alchoholism, documented through strongly archive material and excellently through the mentioned comic strips. The narration leads up to an exhibition, where she gets her own space and decorates the walls with the story about Cutie = herself (photo). The location is New York, there is a lot of presence in the film with the now (for several years says Noriko) sober Ushio, who thinks high of himself and ”need” Noriko, who says sweetly that ”Cutie love Bullie” so much.

On the Dogwoof site, where you can also buy the film, the director writes brilliantly about the background of the film. (Link below).

US, 2013, 78 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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