New Zealand journalist David Farrier thought he was just going to find a subject for his light-hearted, pop-culture-focused features when he started investigating videos he found online for “Competitive Endurance Tickling.” Instead, he found the subject for a documentary that just gets weirder, funnier, more fascinating and more layered as it goes. Farrier (who co-directed with Dylan Reeve) begins trying to understand why the media company that promoted these tickling videos responded to him with insults, harassment and legal threats, and in so doing uncovers a story that could go back 20 years. And while on some level this is an inspiring story about a reporter doing the hard, potentially dangerous work of exposing a criminal, it also digs into hidden fetish sub-cultures, and how it might twist people that those sub-cultures need to remain hidden—and does all of this while remaining thoroughly entertaining. Even as Farrier begins moving toward the possibility of exposing this story’s mysterious and elusive “villain,” Tickled also forces viewers to confront the sad, human face of what it looks like when shame turns toxic.
Director: David Farrier and Dylan Reeve
Producer: Carthew Neal and Justin Pemberton