Justin’s Japan: Nippon in New York — Karaoke Networking, Poisson Piano and ‘Cutie and the Boxer’

The award-winning "Cutie and the Boxer" premieres at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Landmark Sunshine Cinema Aug. 16. Credit: RADiUS-TWC

The award-winning documentary Cutie and the Boxer premieres at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Landmark Sunshine Cinema Aug. 16. (RADiUS-TWC)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

In the dog days of summer, it’s best to escape the heat in a place that’s cozy and cool. For those into Japanese cultural events, this month offers a diverse selection of music, film premieres and parties—all in the comfort of indoor air conditioning.

This month’s highlights include:

Thursday, Aug. 1, 7:30 p.m.

Young Professionals 2nd Annual Midsummer Matsuri and Karaoke Party

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$10 for corporate and individual members, $15 for non-members

Japan Society’s Young Professionals events provide the opportunity for emerging business leaders from the U.S. and Japan (aged 25-45) to meet people with similar interests, experience programming on timely topics, and network with their peers. Attendees are invited to join for a night of networking, singing, eating and drinking featuring singer and Japanese TV personality Alex York as MC! Yukata and other summer attire are welcome, and admission includes light Japanese food and one drink ticket, cash bar thereafter. Space is limited; for advance registration email youngpro@japansociety.org or call 212-715-1219.

Saturday, Aug. 3, 7:00 p.m.

Our Homeland

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

$35 members/students/seniors, $40 nonmembers

As part of the closing night presentation of the 36th Asian American International Film Festival, this screening of Our Homeland includes a Q&A with the director followed by an awards ceremony and gala reception featuring chef’s tasting tables and open bar with specialty cocktails sponsored by Rémy Martin. Sent decades ago as a child to North Korea under a repatriation program, Sungho returns to Japan for a temporary medical visit. A wrenching human drama unfolds as his family grapples with why he was ever let go. Under the constant surveillance by an accompanying North Korean official, Sungho and his family reunite again in this sensitive tale inspired by Korean-Japanese director Yang Yonghi’s true family story. Capturing the tender feelings of separation, memory, and belonging, the film also provides a rare glimpse into the life of ethnic Koreans in Japan. Presented in Japanese and Korean with English subtitles.

Friday, Aug. 16

Cutie and the Boxer

Lincoln Plaza Cinema and Landmark Sunshine Cinema

$13, $13.50

Winner of the Directing Award for U.S. Documentary at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and a hit at film festivals around the world, this candid New York story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife, Noriko. As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, but met with little commercial success after he moved to New York City in 1969, seeking international recognition. When 19-year-old Noriko moved to New York to study art, she fell in love with Ushio—abandoning her education to become the wife and assistant to an unruly, husband. Over the course of their marriage, the roles have shifted. Now 80, Ushio struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art—a series of drawings entitled “Cutie,” depicting her challenging past with Ushio. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art.

For the complete story, click here.