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#TIFF20 Review: The Truffle Hunters (Special Events)

September 19, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The Alba truffle, which grows in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, is considered to be one of the world’s rarest and most exclusive food items, and directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw take us into the unique world of the men who forage for them in their documentary The Truffle Hunters.

These incredibly valuable white truffles only grow in this one part of Europe, and with climate change and deforestation, they are growing increasingly rare. This has only made the work of hunting them even more challenging and competitive. Dweck and Kershaw follow three eccentric older men throughout the film, who employ the help of their beloved dogs to sniff out the truffles, which grow in the dirt near the roots of large trees.

It’s a lucrative business. The truffles go for ridiculously high prices at exclusive auctions, and buyers will pay thousands of euros for the fungi, meeting in alleys at night and speaking in hushed tones not unlike drug dealers, to provide the product to fancy restaurants and foodies. But this obsession with acquiring the luxury food item is not all fun and games, leading to the far more serious and disturbing matter of poison bait being put out by rival truffle hunters to kill the prized dogs of their competitors.

The film mainly unfolds through observant, stationary wide shots, juxtaposing the elite world of truffle auctions with the rustic personal lives of these men, who exist in a region that in many ways has been untouched by time. The film also takes us into the forests with the hunters, even mounting a camera on one of the canines to give us a dog’s eye view of the hunt. It’s a simple, charming documentary portrait, that is at its most captivating when showing the bond between these men and their dogs.

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 18th – 6:00 PM at Bell Digital Cinema (Online for 24 Hours)

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