Nude at Heart
JAPAN, FRANCE / 2021 / Japanese / Color / DCP / 106 min
Director, Photography: Okutani Yoichiro
Editing: Mary Stephen
Sound: Hwang Young-chang
Music: Suzuki Haruyuki
Sound Design: Pierre Carrasco
Color Grading: Fernanda Gurgel
VFX: Sato Fumiro
Producers: Fujioka Asako, Eric Nyari, Okutani Yoichiro
Co-producers: Annie Ohayon-Dekel, Farid Rezkallah
Production Companies: Cineric Creative, 24images
Odoriko—dancers at strip theatres—travel across Japan with their costume cases in hand, sleeping in their dressing rooms in order to perform, and moving on to a new place every ten days. The world of strip theatre, brimming with a nostalgic Showa era (1926–1989) air, has mostly lost its audience, with the number of theatres continuing to decline, but as these women devote themselves night and day to their craft, its splendour fleetingly returns in the stage performances they create. The true faces that the odoriko show in the stage wings, their everyday lives in the dressing rooms, the thoughts they commit to striptease, their love for their families—through this film record, these are all the irreplaceable treasures of the moment.
[Director’s Statement] Nude at Heart is the international release version of Odoriko (2020), a documentary about female dancers that I completed after filming in strip clubs across Japan from 2013 to 2017. Odoriko gives faithful expression to the sense of unfolding time and dense spatial atmosphere that I witnessed with my eyes and ears in these strip clubs. It is also a candid document of present-day odoriko and the strip clubs that remain in operation. Nude at Heart, on the other hand, is a film edited in collaboration with French film editor Mary Stephen. When I entrusted the editing of Nude at Heart to Mary, I proposed that she delve deep into a particular motif. Mary’s title for the film reflects that motif: “nudity.” I had met a dancer who talked about “laying her heart bare,” words that became the seed of this motif. As I filmed between the audience seating areas of the strip clubs and the backstage dressing rooms, watching the dancers in their daily lives both onstage, where they bared their bodies for spectators, and in dressing rooms, where they were also unclothed while preparing to perform, I began to rethink what “nudity” was for them. Was not their disrobing and exposure on the strip club stage linked to their own “laying bare” as a form of release? Imagine what the nudity of these contemporary odoriko dancers means to them as women who literally “put their bodies on the line,” working in a consumer society where old things are torn down, forgotten, then daily replaced with new things, repeatedly, at an ever accelerating pace.
Okutani Yoichiro was born in 1978 in Nakatsugawa City, Gifu Prefecture. He earned a degree in literature from Keio University and studied with film directors Sato Makoto and Tsutsui Takefumi in the documentary program at The Film School of Tokyo. He made his theatrical debut with the feature documentary Nippon no Misemonoyasan (2012). His second film, Children of Soleil (2013), earned a Special Mention in YIDFF 2011 New Asian Currents and a 2013 Shindo Kaneto Silver Award. His third film, Odoriko, which he completed after traveling to strip clubs across Japan and interviewing dancers, was selected for IDFA 2020 Feature-Length Documentary Competition and was awarded both the Scam International Award and the Intangible Heritage Award at Cinéma du Réel 2021.