Cutie and the Boxer

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Cutie and the Boxer
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zachary Heinzerling
Produced by Zachary Heinzerling
Lydia Dean Pilcher
Patrick Burns
Sierra Pettengill
Kiki Miyake
Starring Noriko Shinohara
Ushio Shinohara
Music by Yasuaki Shimizu
Cinematography Zachary Heinzerling
Edited by David Teague
Cine Mosaic
Ex Lion Tamer
Little Magic Films
Distributed by RADiUS-TWC
Release date
  • January 19, 2013 (2013-01-19) (Sundance)
  • August 16, 2013 (2013-08-16)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $199,100[1]

Cutie and the Boxer is a 2013 American documentary film produced, shot, and directed by Zachary Heinzerling. The film focuses on the chaotic 40-year marriage of the boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko. The film features original artwork by Noriko Shinohara and Ushio Shinohara.

Heinzerling said of the couple: "When I first met [the Shinoharas], I was just struck by the raw spirit and beauty that emanates from their faces, their lifestyle, their art, everything about them has so much purpose and character. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, even if you have no previous knowledge of their artwork or who they are, you’re immediately captivated by their presence. They live in a world that’s kind of a time warp that hearkens back to the ‘70s New York SoHo art scene that is sort of canonized in history, certainly from my point of view."[2]


The film is about the difficult 40-year relationship between Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, Japanese-born husband and wife artists who live in New York. Ushio Shinohara is a small player in the contemporary art world, known for painting with a pair of paint-soaked boxing gloves. Their family has struggled financially for many years. Noriko, who is more than 20 years younger than Ushio, set aside her own career to raise their son Alex and serve as Ushio’s unpaid assistant, receptionist and chef. Noriko has also worked on her own art, a character she created named Cutie. Cutie's story is told in a comic-book narrative, where she comes to New York and falls for a broke older artist named Bullie. By the end of the movie, Ushio has begun to recognize that he’s not the only artist in the family. They hold a joint art opening at a SoHo gallery.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film and the director have won a number of awards:[4]

  • Won 2013 Sundance Film Festival "Best Director Award" for Zachary Heinzerling for directing Cutie and the Boxer. The committee cited: "It's rare to see a film so beautifully crafted in all aspects. It captures the complex nature of love and art in a mesmerizing and deeply human way." The film was nominated for Grand Jury Prize for the film during the same festival.
  • They also won second place in Audience Awards during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival
  • It earned Special mention in Grierson Award during the 2013 London Film Festival with the citation: "For the original and creative way in which the filmmakers crafted an intimate portrait of a relationship."
  • During the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the director Zachary Heinzerling won the "Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award" for directing the documentary (a joint win with Ex Lion Tamer)
  • It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards but lost out to 20 Feet from Stardom.


External links[edit]