When “The Truffle Hunters” directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw visited a small town in North Italy, they had no idea they’d be stumbling upon a secret culture of, yes, truffle hunters.
Speaking to TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the virtual Toronto International Film Festival, Dweck explained that the duo had just finished the edit on their last film when he needed to find a place to relax. When he got to a small town in the Piedmont mountains, he knew he had found something magical.
“The people kept saying, why are you here now? You should be here in November,” Dweck explained. “It’s truffle season. I started to ask where these truffles come from — they wouldn’t tell us.”
He added: “Nobody really knew who these truffle hunters were. It was a secret culture and we were always fascinated by these subcultures that are kind of rare and on the edge of extinction and worth exploring.”
Kershaw agreed, speaking to the “magic” of this little town.
“Michael and I were both looking for places that have held on to their past, that have held on to a relationship with nature and that still have a sense of deep-seated community. This place had all of that. When we both came back from these trips, we both kept talking about this place as mysterious and magical and we knew there was a story that needed to be told there.”
“The Truffle Hunters” delves into the stories of the 70 or 80-year-old men who hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle, the value and demand of which increases year by year.
What they found is that these truffle hunters live the simple life, with no technology. Instead, they’ve held on to traditions for hundreds of years. But the challenge was finding the actual truffle hunters and earning their trust.
Ultimately, though, “we got to see the secrets,” Kershaw said.
“The Truffle Hunters” first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and also screened at Cannes, Telluride and New York. Sony Pictures Classics bought the film at Sundance.