The beguiling documentary "Chicken People" proves that truth is not only stranger than fiction, but often more poignant and illuminating as well. This real-life "Best in Show," directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes, follows a trio of competitors in the National Poultry Show who are driven to breed and raise exotic chickens through a mixture of passion, love, obsession and patient planning.
The film is a deep dive into this unique world of competitive show chickens, and Haimes has found the perfect subjects in breeders Brian Knox, Brian Caraker and Shari McCollough, who are warm, quirky and open.
Caraker is a singer in Branson, Mo., following his showbiz dreams while tending to his farm-boy heart with his chickens — creatures that provided an escape from the hell of high school. Knox is an engineer who directs his intellect and love of systems to chicken breeding, a hobby he's pursued since boyhood. McCollough is a homemaker and mom of five who finds peace from a troubled childhood and addiction issues through her birds.
Haimes also interviews other competitors, coloring in the unique humanity of the participants, who are equally chicken-crazy.
But the film proves to be more than just a glimpse into a world that's easy to titter at. Haimes delves into the larger issues and psychological motivations that drive the kind of obsession that allows one to breed award-winning poultry.
Welcome to the wonderful world of "Chicken People."
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica