The Truffle Hunters
Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw’s follow-up to their award-winning The Last Race (2018) is an eccentric, funny, beautifully composed and spiritually nourishing study of elderly Italian truffle hunters, produced by Luca Guadagnino. Like The Last Race (which explored the community around Long Island’s last surviving stock-car racing track) it demonstrates their interest in “places and people that have escaped the sameness of global culture,” with quietly transfixing results.
Deep in the forests of Piedmont, a handful of 70-80 year old men hunt for the rare white Alba truffle. Demand is constantly increasing – even as supply dwindles due to climate change and deforestation – and the secrets of the truffle hunters’ dying art are more coveted than ever. Guided by tradition and an arcane knowledge passed down through generations (as well as by the noses of their cherished, expertly trained dogs), untethered to the internet or mobile phones, they evince the power of a simpler, slower way of life in concert with their animals, their community and the landscape.
With its focus on these mischievous, fascinating and stubborn old men, its strangeness, sweetness and good humour, The Truffle Hunters will feel like a balm to audiences after a year of COVID-19, even as it depicts the fragility of the tradition it celebrates.