Opened in 2012, Cinema Qualite has been a welcome anomaly amid the grim decline of Japan’s once-vibrant “mini theater” (arthouse) scene.
The plucky two-screen theater in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district marked its first anniversary in 2013 by inaugurating its own festival, delightfully named Qualite Fantastic! Cinema Collection. Now into its third year, the event focuses on films that have yet to be released in Japan, and the selections tend to be, well, trash.
There’s good trash and bad trash, of course, and dedicated genre junkies will get to decide which tag applies to such pungent offerings as “Attack of the Killer Donuts,” “Deathgasm,” “Kill Command” and “Zoombies.”
There are a few choice cuts to be found among the cinematic offal, including John Maclean’s deconstructed Western “Slow West” and Lukas Moodysson’s punk coming-of-age tale, “We Are the Best!” The latter is perhaps a surprising inclusion; it won the Sakura Grand Prize at Tokyo International Film Festival back in 2013 yet somehow failed to find a distributor.
This year’s festival also features panel sessions with South by Southwest film head Janet Piersen, and it gets first dibs on a few movies ahead of their scheduled release dates in Japan, most notably Richard Linklater’s nostalgia-inducing 1980s frat comedy “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Qualite Fantastic! Cinema Collection runs at Cinema Qualite from July 16 to Aug. 19. Most screenings cost ¥1,500. For details, visit qualite.musashino-k.jp/quali-colle2016.
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