Hot Docs 2016 Review: “Tickled” (2016) ★★★★


To make a documentary film in the best suspense genre of Hollywood is not so easy. If you allow me to add the following line, then, it is almost impossible to deliver that kind of intensity where an investigative journalist investigates or narrates the story in a certain manner to keep you at the edge of your seat. “Tickled” directed by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve does what many documentarists or investigative journalists would love to do: they not only begin a massive investigation to discover the real truth behind Competitive Endurance Tickling, but more importantly, were able to conclude it with a shocking fact that will shake you afterwards. So, forewarned is forearmed, isn’t it?

One fine day the journalist David Farrier, after seeing a bizarre tickling competition online, realizes that he has found his new story to make a documentary about. Feeling determined, he sends out an email to Jane O’Brien Media with an interview request. Ordinary companies usually send very concise and straightforward email in case they want to refuse an interview request, but what Jane O’Brien Media does is something outrageous, crying and of course, totally unethical.

Someone named Debbie Kuhn says in her email that the company desperately does not want to associate with homosexual journalists to participate in their project. Moreover, what she says next is complete nonsense, however, she adds that the tickling completion is completely a heterosexual sport. This is what makes David Farrier more curious than ever that makes him to dig deep into the story without having an idea of the fact he is about to find out.

But you will be stunned when Farrier provides more information, when every day he would have receive a threat email from the overly aggressive woman. But if you think this is the entire story you’re about to find out in “Tickling”, then you’re absolutely mistaken. When Dylan Reeve joins Farrier to help him with the investigation, they find a man named T.J. who agrees to talk to the camera, while other athletes would have refused to do so due to their fear for their reputation and freedom.

It appears that the company releases every single video they have made, violating the privacy and the trust people gave them. They not only release all personal information, they started spreading rumors that T.J. is someone who he has never been, such as a drug addict, pedophile and many other terrible things. As the journalists rummage deeper into the story they come up against fierce resistance and the fact that they can be sued by the company who wants to stop the investigation at any cost. But when you’re as fearless as David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, I see no reason why the threat that comes from powerful organization can stop them from doing what every journalist must do.

In conclusion, there is no such words that could have described the importance of this documentary film to be seen by everyone. It not only opens up about the world of tickling, it shows the real reason of conducting such experiment which I am not going to write about here.  However, one thing you must certainly know about it is that you will be amazed by the fact that there are people who run such event on monthly basis. Although it keeps its participants as hostage of their fears, that can break any strong human being. So, does the act of touching a part of a body that may trigger a significant amount of laughter worth the outcome of participation in a sporting event that can cause you many troubles and nervous breakdown is something you will have to find out after you watch “Tickled”.

Screening time:

Sat, Apr 30 9:45 PM Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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