A look at the world of show chickens and the people who love them. Starting at the largest national poultry competition, likened to the Westminster Dog Show for chickens, Chicken People follows three top competitors over the course of a year as they grapple with life's challenges while vying to win the next year's crown.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's like Best in Show - for chickens: entertaining, amusing, fascinating and above all, surprising. You'll never look at a chicken the same way again after watching this fascinating documentary that explores the passion of three chicken breeders, who aspire to produce the very best of the breed. Of course there is the novelty value of hearing about a chicken getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, a chicken wearing a nappy and another sleeping with its breeder. But once we have gone beyond that, there is so much more.
Who would have thought that chickens could change someone's life? Or make someone 'a brave person'? The joy of the film is how we become immersed in the world of chickens. There are all colours, textures and shapes and we become enthused by the passion on display. The soft, fluffy white Silkie with a head that looks like a pompom is my favourite.
Director Nicole Lucas Haimes focuses on three breeders: a singer who sings to his birds; a drag car racing enthusiast who likes fixing things and a housewife who loves birds and flying. We are invited into their lives in the lead up to the Ohio National Poultry Show, where although winning is important, it is not everything. We get an insight into what makes a champion - all breeders aspire to breed chickens that attain the 'standard' - and to create the perfect bird. So what is 'perfect bird'? Take a look at this unique, uplifting and chirpy film that will inspire and surprise you.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Behind a young pop / jazz singer and behind a race engine builder and behind a bird watching mother are three of the most dedicated poultry breeders in America. Their showpiece chickens - not your farmyard variety but exotic, multi coloured, fluffy and detailed birds - compete with nearly 10,000 other chooks in the giant championships that make or break their breeders' hearts.
All breeders chase the American Standard of Perfection, drawn up over a century ago and printed in an illustrated book. There are 135 categories of show breeds.
This film documents the chicken people with loving care and respect, as they build up to the Ohio National, a year away. We learn far more than we thought was knowable about chickens and fall in love with most of them. The minutiae of the championships, with its tightly fought competition for perfect feathers and markings, the perfect beak or comb and every other part of every bird is just wonderfully entertaining.
It's jaw dropping at times, the level of obsession exhibited by these chicken people, and illuminating to realise that there is a whole big world - a very big world - full of show chickens and other poultry. We lay people may not take chickens or chicken people seriously at the start ... but by the end of this doco, all that is changed.
And while it's about chickens, yes, as the title tells us, at its heart it's really about people. Oh, and nappies for show chickens when they stay inside the house.
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CHICKEN PEOPLE (PG)
PRODUCER: Terry Leonard, Caroline Kaplan, Christopher Clements, Julie Goldman
DIRECTOR: Nicole Lucas Haimes
SCRIPT: Not credited
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Marrtina Radwan
EDITOR: Kevin Klauber ACE, Sara Booth
MUSIC: Michael Hearst
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 6, 2017