By Matthew Carey
Directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw didn’t necessarily get much sleep when they were making their Sony Pictures Classics documentary The Truffle Hunters, about superannuated men and their dogs in Italy who search for the subterranean delicacy.
“Usually truffle hunting’s done in the middle of the night, in complete darkness,” Kershaw says during Sony Pictures Classics’ panel for the film at Deadline’s Contenders Documentary awards-season event. “They go out alone with their dog and it’s very hilly, this area. Sometimes it’s just sheer cliffs.”
But for the filmmakers there were benefits.
“The joy was sometimes at the end of a long night of being out with them they would reward us with a breakfast of truffles and eggs,” Kershaw says. “That was certainly a perk.”
For the audience, the rewards amount to exceptional scenery, extraordinary characters and an exploration of a pursuit threatened by climate change and deforestation.
“Gregory and I have an obsession,” says Dweck. “We’re always searching for worlds that have held onto traditions and retained their identities…communities that have very close connections to nature in the case of The Truffle Hunters…and these worlds are disappearing rapidly.”
Dweck continues: “When we stumbled upon this region in Italy we were fascinated by it…It was a place that seemed to us that had not been touched by modernity, where modern technology hadn’t taken over their lives and the world felt to us like we were moving through a storybook. It was like a fairytale kingdom and we wanted to capture that place on film.