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2021-02-25 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine A Fond Look at the Secret—and Dying—Art of Truffle Hunting

A Fond Look at the Secret—and Dying—Art of Truffle Hunting

Fun with fungi
EVERY DAY THEY'RE TRUFFLING: In Italy, a gourmand and his truffle
Photo by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

Do you have 90 minutes to roll around in the dirt with some aged Italian men? If so, you might enjoy The Truffle Hunters, a new documentary by directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw.

It follows a cast of elderly, eccentric gentlemen as they scour the Piedmont region of northwest Italy for the world’s most expensive ingredient, the white Alba truffle, which can retail for $5,500 a pound — or higher.

The film, which opened in limited release on December 25 and plans a national theatrical rollout in March (conditions permitting), is told through a series of artfully com-posed, single-frame shots that play out like tableaux vivants come to life.

It’s an ode not only to the prized fungi that grow at the root of tall oak trees but also to a time-honored culture that is far removed from technology, and so secretive as to border on the occult. Secrets about where they hunt, how they train their dogs, and even if they actually find any truffles are all closely guarded. We meet two hunters, Aldo, 86, and Renato, 90, who have breakfasted and lunched together for most of their lives, and never discussed their private truffle haunts.

As for what viewers might learn from the sylvan mysteries of the truffle hunters?

“Well, it’s finding the meaning of life,” Dweck says. “That’s of course what everyone searches for and these guys have found it… their happy place happens to be the forest and it happens to be their dog. It’s a very beautiful, simple life.”

The Truffle Hunters opens March 5.

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