By Mike Fleming Jr
UPDATE: Sony Pictures Classics has confirmed Deadline’s story that it acquired The Truffle Hunters. Release is below original scoop.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 6:25 pm PST: Sony Pictures Classics has dug out The Truffle Hunters, a documentary that got a tasty reaction since it premiered Sunday at The Prospector. The docu, directed by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, went for $1.5 million in a worldwide rights deal, with several distributors bidding.
The film unlocks a fascinating business success story in Northern Italy, where a group of aging men hunt in the woods for a prized quarry: the Alba truffle. These are impossible to cultivate other than the secret culture that this group employs. They employ a certain breed of dogs, which sniff out the culinary treasures, walking with their dogs at night to hide their trail. Part of their business is to keep outsiders from poaching their underground truffle supply. The truffles are a delicacy that brings huge prices in a global market catering to elite diners.
The deal is being brokered by Submarine.
The pic is A Beautiful Stories Production, a coproduction with Bow and Arrow Pictures, Park Pictures in Association with Faliro House Artemis Rising Frenesy Film. The producers are Dweck, and Kershaw, and the executive producers are Luca Guadagnino, Lance Acord, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Faliro House, Jim Swartz, Susan Swartz, Regina K. Scully, Leslie Berriman, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Sam Bisbee, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Nion McEvoy, Wendy Neu, Cameron O’Reilly, Matthew Perniciaro, Patty Quillin, Michael Sherman, Lynda Weinman, Adam and Melony Lewis, and Jamie Wolf.
Dweck made his directing debut on the 2018 Sundance film The Last Race, on which Kershaw was producer and DP.
This marks the second deal for SPC on a Sundance film, as the distributor closed a preemptive deal for the Anthony Hopkins-Olivia Colman-starrer The Father, days before the fest began.
Sony Pictures Classics announced today they have acquired worldwide rights to THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS directed by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (THE LAST RACE), who also serve as cinematographers and producers. The film is currently screening at Sundance in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.
Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. They live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community.
The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these ageing men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life.
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS was produced by Dweck and Kershaw and co-produced by René Simon Cruz Jr. and Letizia Guglielmino. The film is A Beautiful Stories Production, produced by Bow and Arrow Entertainment, Park Pictures In Association with Flair House, Artemis Rising and Frenesy Film. Executive producers are Academy Award®-nominee Luca Guadagnino (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME), Lance Acord, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and Faliro House, Jim and Susan Swartz, Regina K. Scully and Artemis Rising Foundation, Patty Quillin, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman, Lynda Weinman, Cameron O’Reilly, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Sam Bisbee, Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman, Jamie Wolf, and Adam and Melony Lewis.
Sony Pictures Classics and Guadagnino previously worked together on his film CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.
“This is one of the freshest, most beautiful films ever. It will be embraced by audiences the world over,” said Sony Pictures Classics. “Thank you to the filmmakers for making us a partner in what promises to be a grand adventure. Really. This major artistic achievement will make the world smile.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Sony Pictures Classics for the theatrical release of THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS. Their unparalleled commitment to bringing prestige cinema to the screen makes them the gold standard for theatrical distribution. We can’t wait to share the story of the truffle hunters and their beautiful land with audiences around the world,” said Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw.
The deal was negotiated by Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.