What: Truffle Hunters (Dir: Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw)
Next Screening: 24th October @ Palace Nova Cinemas
Truffle Hunters is a documentary without a narrator, or interviews. It blends footage that follows an assortment of Italian truffle hunters who go about their business, both truffle related and truffle adjacent as the cameras roll.
For anyone looking to get a large dose of Italy, slow cinema style, Truffle Hunters will do that. The film ran for a time without subtitles before they were enabled, and I didn’t even realise that it needed them.
A lot of the film’s qualities can be credited to its cinematography, which probably reflects the influence of having Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, Suspiria) on board as an executive producer. Shots are often little more than frames that highlight the colours and detail of both the interiors and exteriors of the Italian countryside. A sense of intimacy with the subjects is created in unexpected ways. Certain cuts of dialogue communicate moments so cinematically that you wonder how these were captured rather than scripted. A memorable ‘dog-cam’ segment was a fun way of experiencing the purposeful chaos of life as a truffle hunting dog.
The footage blends effortlessly into an overarching narrative that doesn’t skim over the often jarring realities of truffle hunting and the business built around it. The hunters are all men that are middle-aged or elderly, dealing with mortality and a general disillusionment with the commercially imposed demands of their craft. These are examined from a position that celebrates the romance of truffle hunting, without avoid the depiction of the less-romantic aspects but letting them down gently, grounding the film.