Film Review: Pecking Order

Pecking Order, Slavko Martinov’s documentary on a poultry competition in New Zealand, is interesting but never fascinating.

Chicken breeders turn their attention to the 2015 National Poultry Show. A local breeders’ club in Christchurch great up to the event, in spite of some leadership issues and strong personalities…

Written and directed by Slavko Martinov, Pecking Order has dual strands. One is to explore the world of chicken competition, and the drive of those who take part. The second strand is the politics of the Christchurch club, and the different personalities in contention. These two strands provide enough content for the 88 minute running time.

Notwithstanding, there is nothing in the film that is truly gripping. There are some interesting personalities in the club, and these are responsible for some of the film’s humour. The leadership fight is less exciting, however. It feels as if director is trying to ramp up the drama with this focus, but there is little here to engage viewers fully.

The documentary piques the interest in some respects. For example, it explores the brutal way the fanciers deal with their chickens. Despite the clear love they have for the animals, several of the breeders are clinical in the way they will cull those that do not meet their high standards.

Some personalities in Pecking Order are more striking than others. Brian acknowledges himself as an eccentric, whilst Doug is very opinionated. In one of the film’s more memorable scenes, he nonchalantly eats fried chicken at the competition.

Overall, it seems as if Martinov wanted to follow the formula of a documentary about a mundane subject, but one that is made interesting by featuring striking characters. Unfortunately Pecking Order does not have sufficient entertaining faces to make the formula work in this instance. It is not a boring film, but not a particularly memorable one either.

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