Movie: Chicken People (2016)

chickenpeople_movieEvery now and then, the Superhero and I like to catch a movie at home, and last weekend was time for me to choose the title, and full kudos to Superhero for going along with this, as he’s never sure what exactly I’m going to select and he’s going to watch.

At first, I was veering towards a rather stern documentary on North Korea (a country with which I am fascinated at the moment), but seeing his expression when I mentioned that title, I thought that a different title might sit better. Scrolling through my movie list, I stumbled upon another documentary that was described as “charming and uplifting”, so that’s the one we watched. It was actually really good.

Called “Chicken People” and directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes, IMDb describes it thus:

Chicken People is a funny and uplifting 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. Both humorous and heartfelt, Chicken People is an unforgettable celebration of the human spirit.

And it was such a good film. It’s always fascinating, I think, to learn about other people who are very serious about their hobbies (regardless of what that hobby is), and as we watched these three people try their very best to get the “perfect” chicken to show at this big event, we really became wrapped up in the whole thing.

It would have been easy for another director to turn this into a mockumentary (a la Best in Show et al.), but the documentary was done with respect to these people – no one was mocked or made fun of, and you ended up feeling just so happy that you’d been allowed to follow them on their individual journeys to end up at the hugely important event in the U.S

I would never have learned about the characters or the world of the show chicken if not for this film, and I have no idea where I found the title, but if you’re interested in seeing people who adore doing their hobbies (and are pretty serious about it), then you’ll like this. Slightly off the beaten path, but well worth seeking out.

If you’re interested in any chicken-related reads:

Extra Extraordinary Chickens – Stephen Green-Armytage (2005)

book271

A second volume (except that I didn’t know there was a first) of absolutely stunning professional photographic portraits of some breeds of ornamental chickens. (That’s right. Chickens.)  This was an absolute joy to look at and learn (at  least on a superficial level) of the numerous kinds of chickens that are out in the world and just look fabulous. (Seriously.)

Ever since we visited the South Plains Fair last September and found ourselves looking at the chicken exhibits, I’ve been curious to learn more about these beautiful chickens. This volume has about 60 different breeds in it, but it’s the photography that is incredible. (Well, and the subjects of course.)

There are just pages and pages and pages of beautiful chickens (and roosters and co.) and in the studio photographic portrait set-up and in the hands of a very good photographer, they come alive in their beauty. I don’t think these are the typical chickens, but they are some of the prettiest and most amazing chickens that I have ever seen.

I did learn some stuff though (and was not just dazzled by chicken super-models):

  • Roosters are older males
  • Chickens are older females
  • Pullets are younger females
  • Cockerels are younger males

The use of “Bantam” weight and “Featherweight” in the weight divisions of boxing originate from the world of chickens and cockfighting. Cockerels who are successful in the cut-throat world of cockfighting are usually aggressive and very tough creatures. “Bantam” weight is a less-than-full-size creature (like a miniature breed), and Featherweight is very lightweight. (Light as a feather, see?)

A Silkie...

A Silkie…

And out of all these fantabulous portraits, a few did strike me as wonderful:  Silkies (who resemble feather dusters), Polish frizzle (more fantastic fluff balls), and Cochins (who have lush thick feathers on their legs and feet so that they look like they are wearing a pair of trousers). Another one I adored was called the Appenzeller Spitzhaubere which tend to have a great Mohawk feather look on their heads and take me back to the 1980’s…:-) And this one below who looks like someone just come in out of the wind here in Texas…

appenzeller