“The film’s a celebration of human spirit,” declares Michael Dweck, co-director of “The Truffle Hunters.” He joined us for a webchat recently (watch the exclusive video on the right) and adds, “We wanted to make it because we fell in love with this place and these people. This past year’s been a challenge for so many in so many ways. We think that there’s something very beautiful about sharing this world that’s so connected. Especially at a time when we’re physically and culturally disconnected. We are all yearning for community, and this film shows this community full of joy.”

Dweck and Gregory Kershaw directed “The Truffle Hunters,” which is a Sony Pictures Classics documentary exploring the community of old men who search for rare truffles (which are impossible to cultivate) in the forests of Piedmont, Italy. Dweck reveals, “Nobody would tell us a thing. It led us on this journey of three years trying to immerse ourselves in this community that was a secret. The priest sent us to someone, who sent us to someone, who sent us to someone. Eventually we made our way into this community. A lot of spending time, over a lot of espresso and wine. Just talking. We kept coming back. Eventually they became like our extended family. And then, only when it felt right, did we start pulling out the camera.”

The film has recently made the Oscars shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. This means from 238 films eligible it is one of only 15 that still remains in the hunt for the Academy Award. Dweck thinks the film stands out because “the place seemed to be removed from a modern world. We decided to frame these things as paintings. Going through a storybook, painting by painting by painting to let the audience really sit and observe.”

Finally, Dweck recounts his first experience of eating a truffle: “We were following this one truffle hunter for weeks, and he hadn’t found a thing. One final night it was freezing, we decided to go one more time. He happened to find one little truffle. He says ‘I’m not selling it, follow me.’ So we hiked to his log cabin. He lights a wood-fire stove. He cracks the eggs over a cast iron skillet, makes fried eggs, and starts shaving truffles on top. And he said ‘this is for you.’ He hadn’t found a truffle this season and decided to give his only truffle to us. We realized how you are tasting the forest; you are tasting the traditions; you are tasting relationship he has with his dog; you are tasting the sound of the owls. You taste all these things in a truffle. It’s this beautiful world that’s revolving around this little fungus, that in a few days is inedible.”


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