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13 minutes, 16mm Black & White Film, 1997

'Curtain of Eyes' is an experimental film which combines Japanese Butoh dance with psychological imagery and choreographed cinematography. Over a six month period, director Danièle Wilmouth collaborated with the Butoh dancer Katsura Kan, and his dance company The Saltimbanques, to create movements for both dancers and camera. The result is an exploration of intimate relationships and bi-cultural identity. The British musician Adrian Freedman composed the original score for the film.

Curtain of Eyes

"Curtain of Eyes held my attention from first frame to last. This Japanese-made essay on Butoh movement theater abounds in startling images, disembodied hands scattering over bare backs, and a musical score that seems ideally wedded to the visuals. Perhaps film is the perfect medium for this species of dance theater."

- Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Examiner

Director's Notes

'Curtain of Eyes' was originally based on a dream I had in 1995. At the time, I was working with two groups, The Saltimbanques Butoh dance troupe, and Hairless Films Japan. 'Curtain of Eyes' explores cross-cultural identity, and intimate relationships. It maps a transformation that I underwent as a European-American living in Japan. The choreography mirrors several stages that I, like many expatriates experience; An initial period of discovery, stimulation and comparison, then a loss of personal identity and virtual paralysis, and finally an empowering bi-cultural outlook and individuality. 

During rehearsals for 'Curtain of Eyes', the dancers, cinematographer, Katsura Kan and I developed the choreography and camera movements over a 6 month period. We strove to inform the two disciplines of dance and film by reflecting each medium's characteristics on the other. For example, towards the end of 'Curtain of Eyes', there is a section developed by the cinematographer, Ian Powell. We refer to it as 'the hand lens'. This is a long tunnel made of many hands that dilates and contracts like an eye, or the iris of a photographic lens.


'Curtain of Eyes' was shot in Kyoto, Japan in 1995, and then the post-production work was completed in Chicago in 1997.


Cast & Crew

Director & Producer                                 Danièle Wilmouth

Dancers                                                          Okyon

                                                                            Izuru Mori

                                                                            Takechiyo Mariya


Choreography Support                            Katsura Kan

Cinematographer                                       Ian Powell

Music                                                                Adrian Freedman

Editor                                                               Danièle Wilmouth

Assistant Director                                      Deborah Stokes

Lighting Designer                                       Takuya Kodama

Editing Support                                           Hiroshi Nishizawa

Camera Assistant                                       Michaela Coventry

Location Sound Recording                    Selma Nakamura

Boom                                                                Gilles Hardy

Photos by Kazuya Tachikawa
All images & text property of Danièle Wilmouth
© Danièle Wilmouth 1997

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