Collecting insects as pets is a way of life in Japan, and first-time director Jessica Oreck captures this obsession with bugs in the surprisingly effective and highly unusual documentary BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO, playing at Film Forum May 12-18. Oreck, a docent and animal keeper at the American Museum of Natural History, traces the history of the relationship between Japan and bugs in a nonlinear narrative that often plays like a fiction film, especially when showing a young boy shopping for a particular insect – his favorite costs fifty-seven dollars – much the way children in the West look for dogs or cats, or following an insect hunter as he searches the forest for specimens to sell. Oreck cuts between dazzling, colorful shots of fast-paced, modern-day Tokyo backed by a thumping, bass-heavy soundtrack and calmer, more subtle scenes of nature as people discuss their love of beetles, crickets, and other creepy crawlers. But Oreck doesn’t present the Japanese treatment of insects as a strange fad or craze, instead seeing it as yet another relationship with nature and beauty that Westerners are unable to understand. Oreck will be at Film Forum for the 6:30 and 8:20 screenings on May 12 and 14, bringing with her some live exotic insects, and will also be at the 4:40 show on May 16 with INSECTOPEDIA author Hugh Raffles.