what (not) to doc



Coming to CMT tonight and also now available on DVD: CHICKEN PEOPLE

Nicole Lucas Haimes look at the world of competitive poultry breeders made its bow at SXSW earlier this year. Other fests have included AFI Docs, Nashville, Sidewalk, Seattle, Indie Memphis, and Atlantic.

Haimes’ film begins at the annual Ohio National, the premier poultry show in the world, where viewers are introduced to main characters Brian Knox, Shari McCollough, and Brian Caraker. While sequences peppered throughout briefly survey additional breeders, these three carry the bulk of the film and provide its emotional heft. Knox, a racing engineer, is a good-natured perfectionist who’s been unable to figure out romantic relationships; McCollough is a mother of five and recovering alcoholic; and Caraker is a Branson MO musical theatre performer who was bullied in school. They are each sympathetic figures, revealing just enough personal details to engage an audience who might otherwise not be riveted by the details of the poultry competition or of selective chicken breeding techniques. While the film seems also to want to trade on the quirky aspects of their avocation, it never quite pushes this to the extreme that it likely could, resulting in a likeable but not altogether unforgettable subcultural portrait.