The Natural History of the Chicken

Director: Mark Lewis

Institute History


The Natural History of the Chicken effectively entices us while capturing people's bizarre attraction to this common barnyard animal. Broken into sections highlighting individuals' experiences with their feathered friends, the film is interspersed with striking footage of what goes on inside a poultry-harvesting factory. We are introduced to a variety of folks, from a woman in Maine who gave her ailing chicken CPR to one in Florida whose chicken lives in her home and wears panties. Through these anecdotal tales, we come to realize how attached people can become to these often-overlooked creatures. On the opposite side of things, we meet a group of citizens who are up in arms over the noise created by roosters raised for cockfighting in their otherwise-tranquil community.

Director Mark Lewis, a renowned veteran of films about animals ranging from toads to dogs, wastes no time as he delves into the fascinating animal/human connection. In this film dosed with humor, he manages to walk the delicate line which showcases his subjects' peculiar fascinations while preserving their dignity and unique personalities. The film allows us to reconsider our relationship with an animal we may previously have taken for granted while also giving us a lens to reexamine the way we look at ourselves.

Brilliant color photography and amplified sound effects allow this highly entertaining film to leap from the screen. After viewing The Natural History of the Chicken, we can never think of chickens or the people who love them in quite the same way again.

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details


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