Chasing Chickens at Homegrown Doc Fest

Friday’s NW Documentary film fest features a short about Portland Meat Collective maven, Camas Davis.

By Anna Sachse September 2, 2010

An image from Good Bird, screening in Homegrown Doc Fest, during which you are welcome to eat and drink while you’re watching the flicks — if you can stomach it.

As a film buff and a foodie, it would be hard for me to ask for anything more than a documentary about a gorgeous woman chasing chickens around and cutting into a side of pork with a hacksaw. But it only gets better when the woman is my high school chum, Camas Davis, founder of the Portland Meat Collective, and the film, Good Bird, is by my good friend, Jill Davis, a writer and former deputy editor of Portland Monthly.

Jill’s first foray into film, a somewhat funny, somewhat bizarre, and somewhat gross 11-minute documentary short about Camas and her meat CSA/traveling butchery school, premieres tomorrow night, Friday, September 3rd, as part of Homegrown Doc Fest — appearing with five other student shorts, it is the culmination of a summer-long workshop at NW Documentary. The screening takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Mission Theater & Pub; tickets only cost $7 (cheaper than the latest crap at the megaplex) and proceeds go to NW Documentary.

But back to the Davis gals. Despite the bound-to-be-made comparisons to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, et al, Jill, who focused on documentary photography while getting her master’s in journalism at UC Berkeley, says that her film is more personal than political. Yes, yes — the film follows Camas as she teaches classes about how to slaughter and dismember chickens, and Jill acknowledges there is something to be said for literally looking your meal in the face before it ends up in your fridge. (Although our very own director apparently had to look away while the first two students in one of Camas’ classes offed their fowl, thus we don’t get to/have to see it either — until number three.)

However, the real heart-line of the film is why Camas ended up wielding knives in the first place.

“I enjoy butchery because, contrary to popular belief, when done well, with an artistic hand and good knowledge passed down through generations, it’s actually quite beautiful," she says. "But I enjoy teaching butchery more than butchery itself, because I get to be a part of a group of people facing up to something real and raw that is contrary to every other aspect of our daily lives."

And her decision to become a butcher helped her process some monumentally real, raw issues in her own life…

Carnivorous and curious? That’ll be $7.

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