Shunzo (Bengal) runs a beloved greengrocer in the outskirts of Tokyo. When Lee, a struggling exchange student from China, visits the shop but is unable to afford the produce, an uneasy relationship sprouts. As Shunzo’s generosity sneaks up on him, he is confronted by his role as a surrogate father to his newfound Chinese friends.

Shot between May and July of 1989 and addressing the historically charged notion of a Sino-Japanese friendship, this lesser-seen masterpiece from director Nobuhiko Obayashi (House) subtly chronicles the end of a decade marked by the Japanese economic bubble and the brutal close of possibility in China.

A delicate elegy to the Chinese students of its time, Beijing Watermelon finds Obayashi at his most modern, channeling Yasujiro Ozu, while his experimental flourishes provide the perfect disruption, inviting viewers to fill in the blanks of history.

New 2K restoration commissioned by Shochiku from a 4K scan of the 35mm negatives, scanned at IMAGICA Lab Inc. in 2021 on a Lasergraphics Scanstation.

CCA’s Auteur Series presents works by filmmakers who are widely respected around the world and exhibit a distinctly unique vision, but whose works often exists on the margins of the industry.

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Writer: Yoshihiro Ishimatsu
Features: Bengal, Masaku Moti, Yasufumi Hayashi
Running Time: 2 hrs. 15 min.
Film: Drama
Language: Japanese and Chinese [English subtitles]