In 1972, Ushio Shinohara was a 40-year-old artist who had been living in New York City for three years and had won a small but distinguished following for what he called his "boxing paintings," created by dipping gloves in paint and literally pounding at the canvas. Ushio met Noriko Shinohara, a 19-year-old art student who had just arrived in the United States; the two fell into a relationship that was destined to become permanent when Noriko became pregnant a few months later. Four decades on, Ushio and Noriko are still together, but their relationship is not always a healthy one; he's an alcoholic who dominates the marriage and is clearly resentful that his career in art has not been more successful, especially since Noriko has caught the attention of critics with her own work, which uses comic-style images to express messages of female empowerment inspired by her own life. Filmmaker Zachary Heinzerling
offers an emotionally intense look into the sometimes volatile balance between two talented but combative personalities in the documentary Cutie and the Boxer
. The film received its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.