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Japan's love affair with bugs

posted 19 Apr 2011, 11:42 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Apr 2011, 11:44 ]
"Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo" documents Japan's fascination with insects.
USA-BEETLE QUEEN - It started out as a simple film about bugs.

But when director Jessica Oreck finished "Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo" is was less about science and more about culture.

The documentary explores Tokyo's long-term love affair with insects from the fabled first emperor who dubbed Japan the "Isle of the Dragonflies," to the cricket-selling businesses of the 1800s.

 Jessica Oreck, film director, saying:

"The bug business in Japan is actually a multi-million dollar industry. I mean they have - they breed and sell beetles they catch and breed and sell beetles based on the size of their mandibles. So they, you know, however large their mandibles are it's more money and some specimens have sold for thousands and thousands of dollars. In 1997 it was reported that there was one specimen that sold for ninety-thousand dollars, U.S., which is an incredible sum of money."

Poetry, art and philosophy help make the film more than just about insects.

As a matter of fact, Oreck said the best reaction she has received from the film had nothing to do with critters.

Jessica Oreck, film director, saying:

"It was a World War II veteran who came up to me after the film and said, 'you know, for 50 years I've hated the Japanese with my gut and in that hour and a half you've changed the way I felt about them.' Which I thought was a pretty spectacular thing to have happened."

The film will premiere in the U.S. on PBS on May 17.

Alicia Powell, Reuters.