Curtain of Eyes

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 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
  • Dancers
  • Choreography Support
  • Cinematographer
  • Music
  • Editor
  • Assistant Director
  • Lighting Designer
  • Editing Support
  • Camera Assistant
  • Location Sound Recording
  • Boom
  • Danièle Wilmouth
  • Okyon
  • Izuru Mori
  • Takechiyo Mariya
  • Lee
  • Katsura Kan
  • Ian Powell
  • Adrian Freedman
  • Danièle Wilmouth
  • Deborah Stokes
  • Takuya Kodama
  • Hiroshi Nishizawa
  • Michaela Coventry
  • Selma Nakamura
  • Gilles Hardy