Beijing Watermelon

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This Partner Label release is distributed through Vinegar Syndrome's sister company OCN Distribution. Vinegar Syndrome had no part in, nor are responsible for, the restoration, extras, quality control or any content(s) of this release. We hope you enjoy our growing roster of Partner Labels and the expertise and curation brought to each release by their dedicated staff!


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This listing is for the standard edition Blu-ray. The limited edition slipcover was limited to 1,000 units and is sold out. The two versions are identical, aside from the slipcover.

Named after Yasujiro Ozu’s custom-made, tatami-level, crab-like tripod, Kani is a new home video label dedicated to leveling the gaze and furthering the understanding of Asian cinema in North America. Focused on genre-defying films, Kani aims to expand the canon, bolster up-and-coming filmmakers and reintroduce repertory classics in context. Vinegar Syndrome’s sister company, OCN Distribution, is thrilled to be representing this diverse and unique home video line!

Shunzo (Bengal) and his wife Michi (Masako Motai) run a beloved greengrocer on 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. Begrudgingly, Shunzo agrees to lower his prices. Soon, Lee’s classmates begin frequenting the shop. As Shunzo’s generosity sneaks up on him and strains his family’s welfare, he confronts his role as surrogate father to his newfound Chinese friends.

Shot between May - July of 1989 and addressing the historically charged notion of a Sino-Japanese friendship, this lesser-seen masterpiece from director Nobuhiko Obayashi (House) 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 the style of Yasujiro Ozu, while his experimental flourishes provide the perfect disruption, inviting viewers to fill in the blanks of history.

directed by: Nobuhiko Obayashi
starring: Bengal, Masako Motai, Le Han, Le Jun
1989 / 135 min / 1.85:1 / Japanese, Mandarin DTS-HD MA 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region A Blu-ray
  • 2K restoration 
  • Interview with Chigumi Obayashi 
  • Theatrical Trailer & Teaser
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Booklet with new writing by Aaron Gerow
  • New art by Qiu Jiongjiong of A New Old Play (Kani 010)
  • Logo design by Leo Mak
  • English subtitles