Screened as part of Autumn Events 2017
Pecking Order ventures behind the scenes at the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club as it enters its 148th season and prepares for the National Show (in Oamaru). As several generations of Canterbury chicken fanciers groom their prize specimens for world domination, less salubrious rivalries are unfolding at the clubhouse. Having long covered the club in championship glory, president Doug Bain is warding off the younger generation of wily manipulators and know-nothings who conspire to knock him from the perch. (Be warned: the film’s snappy intertitles have rounded up every chicken-related figure of speech in the lexicon.) Anyone who’s put in the hours at club committee meetings will squirm in recognition at the candid portrait of intransigent seniority.
But Martinov serves affectionate portraits of contending generations of chook fancier, and a younger generation yet, hooking us with their humour and the sheer vitality of their obsessions. For all the technical information that’s enthusiastically imparted en route to the judges’ decision, you may still be mystified as to how the lab-coated sages determine their verdicts. Expect to care regardless: as befits the genre, it’s not hens we are rooting for.