Experiencing Interruptions?


Grieving pet owners embark on an unusual pilgrimage to Padua, in search of a second life for their beloved animal, at the hands of an unlikely messiah.

Alberto is Padua’s only taxidermist, and perhaps the only taxidermist in Italy to specialize in pet taxidermy. His typical client grieves for a cat, a dog, a bird, from which they will not be separated, even by death. Acting as a de facto animal undertaker, skilled technician and part-time therapist, Alberto tangibly gives his clients the essence of what they lost. But now his craft is not enough. He is at a crossroads. He is channelling his love of the macabre into sculptures made of animal remains.

More than the life of a singular artist, “Taxiderman” explores the poignant, poetic and sometimes hilarious truths that come to light when death is both object and subject.

  • Rossella Laeng
    Puppets, Back Alley Hoes
  • Andrea Miller
    Particle Fever
  • Alberto Michelon
    Key Cast
  • Marco Riva
    Boschi Cavar Carbone
  • John Wells
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    documentary, human interest, verite
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 28, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Rhode Island International Film Festival
    Rhode Island
    United States
    August 9, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Firenze Film Corti Festival
    September 22, 2021
    Best Documentary
  • Bushwick Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    October 25, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Corto Dorico Film Fest
    December 4, 2021
  • Kort Film Festivalen
    June 15, 2022
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Rossella Laeng

Rossella Laeng was raised in Milan, Italy by her Italian father and American mother.

She has also lived in India, Texas, Australia and, most recently, New York City.

Her first documentary short “Puppets,” about a retired, gay marionettist, screened at the Greenwich Village Film Festival in 2016, and was awarded Best Documentary Super Short at Chain Film Festival in 2017.

Her documentary work has also appeared on The Guardian, The Establishment, and The Huffington Post.

She recently scripted and directed a short dark comedy titled Back Alley Hoes, which screened at the Louisiana LGBT+ Festival in 2020.

She has worked as a producer, cameraperson, editor, and research assistant (Replica Productions, Vice Media, World of Wonder, Folium Films) in NYC, where she lived from 2012-2020.

To date, "Taxiderman" is her magnum opus.

Rossella’s filmmaking interests lie at the intersection of the culturally nuanced, bizarre, "go against the grain" topics.

Rossella holds a BFA in film with a focus on documentary from the City College of New York, and a certificate in journalism from NYU’s School Of Professional Studies.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In the spring of 2016 I was interning as an editing assistant at The American Museum Of Natural History.
Most of my time there was spent watching and logging graphic footage of various bird specimens being killed, plucked, sliced, and vialed, for the noble purpose of doing science.
This was perhaps my first exposure to the concept of a lifeless body being rebirthed as a vessel for knowledge and meaning.

I don’t think the article about a taxidermist in Padua I randomly ran across would have caught my eye, had I not been so passively immersed in taxidermy and animal death at the time.
It described a ruggedly handsome, outgoing man who happened to stuff people’s dead pets for a living. I thought, “Italy plus taxidermy sounds like a winning visual storytelling combination!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

My intent is not to force a stance on the subject of taxidermy or pet afterlife, but rather to shed light on the nuance and beauty which can be found in the most unexpected of places.
This documentary is a portrait of a man, but also of Italy, the country that raised me.
It’s a slice of life as seen through my eyes, and an invitation to defeat death through art and self-expression.