Despite director Zachary Heinzerling’s Emmy nominated resume work and the fact that he took part in New York Film Festival’s Emerging Visions program last year, Cutie and the Boxer was, for me, the biggest surprise to come out of Sundance this year. As a raw revelation of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara’s lasting relationship and their struggles to live through the returns of their artwork. Ushio has long been considered an outsider action artist known for his spontaneously punched-out boxing paintings, while Noriko harvests her personal life for the water-colored comics she creates in her own nook of their shared studio. Heinzerling depicts them with sharp-witted admiration, but never shys away from the flaws that fan the flames between them. In doing so, he took home the Directing Prize at Sundance where the film debuted earlier this year.
After attending the world premiere of Heinzerling’s uproariously funny, but ultimately tragic doc, I sat down with the director and the Shinoharas, who watched the film for the first time at the same screening I witnessed. Though painfully revealing at times, the couple seemed to be genuinely excited to be a part of the film and fascinated to get a third person perspective on their own lives. We spoke about how they first met each other, how the film developed and Ushio’s poignant comment that ‘Art is a demon.’ Listen in on our conversation below.
CUTIE AND THE BOXER will be released by RADiUS-TWC on August 16 in NY at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Landmark Sunshine Cinema. A national rollout will follow.