It’s been quite a year for NZ cinema with the release of strong dramas like Lee Tamahori’s Mahana and Taika Waititi’s hugely popular Hunt for the Wilderpeople. But now all eyes are on Tickled, a documentary you’ve no-doubt heard about from friends, random acquaintances or online via one of the many glowing reviews.
This relentless and tight doco comes from NZ journalist David Farrier and post-production supervisor Dylan Reeve, both of whom directed the film. It all started when Farrier came across the world of competitive tickling online, and quickly set about getting an interview with the brains behind the operation. Things turned dark when Farrier received personal and scathing attacks from the organiser, including threats of legal action if he did not drop the story. Once Reeve came on board it was all go, and the two filmmakers soon uncovered a world run by a bully with a endless resources.
It’s hard to talk about the film without giving away the many surprising and frankly shocking revelations, but no stone was left unturned in this quest for answers. What really makes Tickled work is the inclusion of Farrier and Reeve as key characters. As we follow them down the rabbit hole into a time that was undoubtedly difficult on a personal level, we also feel a greater desire for justice and resolution. From outrage to disgust to amusement, Tickled takes you through a lifetime of emotions, building to a jaw dropping climax.
Despite facing lawsuits, threats and denied interview requests from former competitors too afraid to speak out, Farrier and Reeve have crafted a tight narrative that hits hard at the most unexpected of times. Whether revealing the frightening emails and letters others have received from the all-powerful organiser, Jane O’Brien Media, or interviewing those whose lives were turned upside down by the whole mess (including a talent recruiter), not a minute has been wasted in this utterly consuming and thoroughly entertaining film.
Tickled will be released in New Zealand on May 26 and in the US on June 17.