If the idea of seeing taxidermy onscreen makes you think of Anthony Perkins' ominous birds in Psycho, the poetic reverence for the beauty of nature shown by the wildlife artists in this doc will change your mind.
Director Erin Derham dives deep into the world of modern taxidermy, delving into the craft, technique, and obsession that informs this living (no pun intended) art form. While Stuffed does provide a historical overview of the occupation, Derham's film firmly focuses on profiling an emerging generation of taxidermists, including Allis Markham, who runs an all-female taxidermy business and whose work has been commissioned by Gucci and displayed in museums, and Travis C. De Villiers, a South African practitioner whose attention to detail when stuffing large game animals is breathtaking to behold. Exploring this resurging discipline, Derham's camera encounters a common thread of care and concern for nature and a great respect for the creatures being prepared for display, none of which are killed in service of the art. If you think you have an idea of the scope of the trade, prepare yourself for territories such as rogue taxidermy (fantastical creatures fashioned out of multiple animals), novelty taxidermy (kitschy throwback displays), Victorian taxidermy (think Renaissance compositions and you're halfway there), and more. Stuffed is a thoroughly engaging documentary that reaches beyond its subject matter, allowing the interviewees to share personal philosophies that unpack not only why they engage with their chosen field, but also why humans are drawn to follow their preoccupations, crafting a life's work in the process.
Erin Derham is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who began her career editing and directing for PBS. She founded History Boutique Films, a production company focused on exploring the human experience, telling stories about inspirational people. Her films include Buskin' Blues, a music documentary exploring the secretive lives of street performers, Julian Price, a historical documentary about an inspirational philanthropist, and Blue Air, a narrative film following a young mother and child finding strength in the great outdoors.
Sponsored by Arrivé, Canadian Studies Center at UW, Consulate General of Canada, KKNW 1150 AM
- Director: Erin Derham
- Principal Cast: Allis Markham, Jaap Sinke, Ferry Van Tongren, Travis De Villiers, Daniel Meng
- Country: Canada, USA
- Year: 2019
- Running Time: 85 minutes
- Producer: Kaleena Kiff, Galen Fletcher
- Cinematographers: Jan Balster
- Editors: Jenn Strom
- Music: Ben Lovett
- Website: Official Film Website
- Filmography: Buskin’ Blues (Doc, 2015)
- Language: English
- Format: DCP
- International Sales: Autlook Films