Introduction by Ed Halter on August 10

The first of several documentaries by Nick Broomfield about sex work in America, Chicken Ranch sets its focus upon the eponymous Nevada brothel. He and co-director Sandi Sissel capture the everyday activities of the business and the people employed there; escorts line up in the parlor to meet potential clients, negotiate rates, goof around in their downtime, and crack jokes about clueless johns. Indeed, the vibe is largely upbeat—and since it’s a legal establishment, free from the perils of vice cops and ill-tempered tricks. When tensions emerge between labor and management, the directors briefly become subjects themselves; the owner demands they destroy the scene’s footage, but they never stop recording. “What Broomfield learns from America,” argues critic Ed Halter, “is the practice of documentary as the professional exchange of intimacies, one from which the filmmaker can never be truly extricated.”