Actors: Tam Smith, Charlyne Chiappone, Ana Laco, Havve Fjel, Damien Lloyd Davies
Synopsis: Documenting a subculture of body modification devotees, endorphin junkies, and thrill-seeking masochists
Kate Shenton’s “On Tender Hooks” is a documentary that explores the world of human suspension and the people involved. Shenton spent a year following a different people and group of suspenders. Every Sunday they would pierce themselves with hooks and hang in mid-air from rigs in a display that challenges the perceptions and squeamishness of even the most hardened. The film shows how the ordinary human body can achieve extraordinary things. It begins with groups in London, and then follows events in Rico, Croatia and Oslo, Norway. We get a look at a wide variety of experience and opinions, and then goes thoughtfully into a deeply misunderstood practice.
The film is a self-funded project filmed and edited by director Kate Shenton. Completed in 2012 it is an example of pure independent filmmaking.
The sight of hooks into flesh and stretched skin really exposes our perceived tolerance to pain and how judgmental we could be towards the people putting their body through its paces. After the shock has died down we begin to ignore the activity and focus in on what people are saying to, Kate Shenton. The big question is why do people go through a process of pain to reach the point of pleasure. We learn that for some participants it’s an emotional cleansing experience and for others it’s just fun, but no two people that speaking on camera have the same reason or experience. Endorphins must be an incredibly powerful drug that’s for sure. Shenton’s film leaves you with a feeling that the human suspension community is littered with lots of compassion, humility and love. We have a great example when the director herself gives it a try for the first and only time. Her tears were of fear, anticipation and then joy.
The DVD also includes the following bonuses:
“Gimp” – A Short Film by Kate Shenton
“Pig” – A Short Film by Kate Shenton
“Turn Your Phone Off” – Frightfest Short by Kate Shenton
“On Tender Hooks” – Directors Commentary