Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Movie with Abe: The Truffle Hunters

The Truffle Hunters
Directed by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw
To Be Released March 5, 2021

Many people work for a living, doing what they can in order to make a good amount of money. Some are fortunate to be able to choose how they want to spend their time, even if it won’t result in the same financial reward as a more lucrative opportunity. And then there are those who know what they do best, which may be their source of sustenance but is more about a passionate pursuit of a craft. Doing it well and doing it right can be more important than anything else, even if it fails to be as profitable as it could be with a different approach.

In the Piedmont region of Italy, a group of men in their seventies and eighties spend their time traipsing through the forest with their loyal canine companions on the hunt for truffles. They don’t know what they will find but have their established territories and methods of search. When they are successful, their goods sell for thousands of euros due to the tremendous appreciation for the truffles from restaurateurs and other interested parties.

There is a certain spirit conveyed by this film only possible by meeting these subjects where they are, which is comfortable in their own routines and unwilling to consider a new perspective that might both help them earn more and pass down their knowledge to a next generation. Those who ask their elders nicely both for advice and their trade secrets are turned away since they would, for the most part, rather hold up their successes as a point of pride than share them with someone else, even if it means that the best areas in which to find truffles will go uncultivated after they are no longer around to search them.

This is the kind of documentary that zeroes in on the people it’s presenting, saying more by showcasing their daily activities than by expressly interviewing them about who they are and how they came to be considered among the most respected and prolific truffle hunters. That style of filmmaking may not be immersive for all audiences, though there’s something appealing about the simplicity of their worldviews and the way in which they have their respected processes that are sacred and incontrovertible. Even those who can’t understand why people love truffles and are willing to pay exorbitant prices for mere shavings of them should appreciate the tenderness and wonder of this unusual spotlight.


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