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THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE CHICKEN

USA, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Documentaries)

Director: Mark Lewis

Mark Lewis has taken the same brilliant humour he has applied to the animal kingdom in Cane Toads and The Wonderful World of Dogs in approaching his latest subject, the humble chook. This wonderful account of man's relationship with his feathered friend relates amazing events and amusing anecdotes while plumbing the psychology of chickens and some of their exceedingly strange owners.

Take the strange case of Miracle Mike, the headless chicken towed around the world as a freak of nature; never mind that it was Mike's owner who lopped off his head in the first place! Or the touching story of Lisa the perfect mother, an hilarious yarn about a chicken that laid down her own life to protect her chicks from a marauding hawk. Angry neighbours plotting to assassinate crowing cocks, ER-esque drama of emergency mouth-to-beak resuscitations and a grim look at battery farming Sublime and ridiculous. "The weird-and-wonderful aspect of the filmmaker's approach is echoed in the slightly surreal, colour drenched visuals, gorgeous shots of chickens against vibrant pastoral landscapes and imaginative use of music"—Variety.

2001 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee; Golden Spire at San Francisco Film Festival

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