Who knew a documentary about a poultry fanciers and breeders’ club in Christchurch New Zealand would be as riveting as Slavko Martinov’s Pecking Order. The film which markets itself rather annoyingly as a “Flokcumentary” is way more engaging than one might have imagined. Martinov transports his audience into a world most of them would have heard very little about, and one suspect a great chunk of them never even knew exited in the first place.

All is not well within the 148-year-old Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club, its members are at each others throats and an almighty row over a change of presidency is brewing in the background. Martinov follows the group of “chook” fanciers, as they proudly refer to themselves, as they prepare to celebrate the club’s 150th anniversary and enter the last stages of the National Show, the most important competition in the calendar. Feathers fly when some of the members attempt to unseat club president Doug in favour of a younger and more suitable replacement.

Pecking OrderSet up almost like a real life Best In Show (Christopher Guest, 2000), Pecking Order’s jovial outlook is never mocking nor is it ever judgemental towards its subject and their life choices. From likeable Mark, who some would rather have as club president, to young teen Rhys who is about to start a lifetime of obsession as one of the youngest “chook” fanciers, the group is seen talking candidly and with huge excitement and tenderness about their passion. Despite their constant squabbles and barely hidden digs at each other, the club members all have the love for the sport in common and it is ultimately this love which will keep them on the same side no matter what.

Martinov does a great job in getting the best out if his subjects, his ability to convey a sense of suspense as the final of the competition gets closer, allows his audience to finally feel more involved in the action taking place. As we count down to the big day, we are allowed a glimpse into the obsessive behaviour attached to a sport some have given more than fifty years of their lives to.

Despite its rather odd subject matter, Pecking Order does a decent enough job in presenting its audience with a charming premise and a rather exciting denouement, having said that, it’s hard to get completely exited about chicken if one was completely honest. Pecking Order allows its audience to familiarise itself with a world which is a million miles away from their own lives. A hugely enjoyable and rather endearing feature.

Pecking Order is released on September 29th.