Among the forests of the small town of Piedmont, Italy, men and their dogs roam the muddy woods in search of a very particular treasure: the white Alba truffle. Proven impossible to cultivate, the extremely rare delicacy is intrinsically related to climate and requires a traditional form of expertise when it comes to its hunting. The Truffle Hunters follows a group of elderly men as they reflect on the hunting practice and the many changes brought by the overwhelming demand. 

At the core of The Truffle Hunters is about the devoted relationship between the men and their dogs. To some, the animals are all the family they know, having spent years deep in the woods, vastly neglecting all aspects of social life. We see them lovingly care for these creatures, kindly stroking their fur and praising the animal instincts that are so vital to their breadwinning. Guttural sounds echo through the forests when one of the dogs passes away, a harrowing display of sheer sorrow; the loss of a dog transforming these tough, hardworking men into a jumble of tears. 

A warming tale of devotion and tradition, the documentary also offers a much-needed insight into the devastating consequences brought by greed to this small Italian community. Gone is the weight of one’s word and a good honest handshake. As the industry saw its profitability rise, big dealers in expensive suits invaded the hunting grounds in search of the best deal, indelibly tarnishing what was once a labour of love. 

A privileged look into a rapidly changing tradition held by the fragile hands of aging men, The Truffle Hunters is an enlightening study of the consequences of a small practice turned money race. More than that, however, it is a tender homage to the loving resilience that sustains the tradition.  

RATING: 4/5


INFORMATION

DIRECTORS: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw

WRITERS: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw

SYNOPSIS: 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.