If you want to see a cockerel enjoying a blow-dry, this is the film for you. The people in ‘Pecking Order’ take their chickens (or ‘chooks’, as they endearingly call them) very seriously indeed, hairdos included.
Director Slavko Martinov follows the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club as its members prepare for New Zealand National Poultry Show, essentially a beauty contest for the birds. It has everything you’d expect from a documentary about a niche endeavour: the characters (look out for the wonderfully eccentric Brian Glassey), the drama (there are some serious ‘House of Cards’-style politics going on behind the scenes) and of course a very OTT reverence for the whole thing. It’s charming, gently funny and includes just the right number of chicken puns.
But the best documentaries go a bit further than that. Does it say something bigger, about what we’re all about? Maybe – there’s certainly something in there about how the smallest battles can take over our lives. But mostly this is just an enjoyable 90 odd minutes of very attractive chickens and their dedicated owners. Oh and that cockerel having a nice time in front of a hairdryer.