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Finds the heart of raising fowl.
There is a manual that describes what an ideal chicken looks like, down to the angle of their tail and flop of their comb, and that is just the beginning of the revelations on the world of chicken breeders in Nicole Lucas Haimes’ surprisingly sweet Chicken People.
Throw any preconceived notions about chickens out the door, because the stories that Haimes is able to share are worth your attention.
Filmed during the lead-up to the 2015 National Poultry Show, Chicken People takes an intimate glance into the lives of the men and women who breed and raise chickens for show. Haimes is a neutral observer in their lives, allowing for the natural charm to seep through and fill the film with poignancy and humour. Chicken People is funny when it wants to be and serious when it needs to be, all without poking fun at this fowl sub-culture.
The three main subjects, Brian Caraker, Brian Knox and Shari McCollough come to chicken shows from across the United States but all share a passion for raising and breeding chickens. Each person reveals intimate details about their lives that turn into poignant stories, not just as an explanation for how they found themselves grooming chickens for judging, but also how they overcome significant struggles and trauma.
McCollough and her family offer a particularly powerful and moving story on the resilience of the human spirit. Drawing on emotional memories from her childhood and her struggles with mental illness and alcoholism, McCollough is a fascinating individual that demands and deserves the respect that this film shows her.
Chicken People takes its subjects seriously without being too serious. In a community that seems on the surface to be an obvious target of mockery, Haimes finds the heart. The film does not go down the obvious comedy route and offers a deep character study of these individuals and their lives. Haimes’ film lacks an obvious audience, but those curious enough to meet the people in this world will be happily surprised.
An astounding example of the love humans can share for animals and the way their lives become all the more better for it, Chicken People may be the most confusingly endearing documentary you have ever seen.