2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS

THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS
Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw enter the secretive world of the only people who are able to find the most expensive truffle in the world.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Country:
Italy/USA/Greece

Sundance Program Description:

Deep in the forests of Northern Italy resides the prized white Alba truffle. Desired by the wealthiest patrons in the world, it remains a pungent but rarified mystery. It cannot be cultivated or found, even by the most resourceful of modern excavators. The only souls on Earth who know how to dig it up are a tiny circle of canines and their silver-haired human companions – Italian elders with walking sticks and devilish senses of humor – who only scour for the truffle at night so as not to leave any clues for others.

Still, this small enclave of hunters induces a feverish buying market that spans the globe. With unprecedented access to the elusive truffle hunters, filmmakers Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (THE LAST RACE, 2018 Sundance Film Festival) follow this maddening cycle from the forest floor to the pristine restaurant plate. With a wily and absurdist flare, THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS captures a precarious ritual constantly threatened by greed and outside influences but still somehow protected by those clever, tight-lipped few who know how to unearth the magic within nature.

Some Background:

Directors/Producers:

  • Michael Dweck
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE LAST RACE

    Dweck is a visual artist known for his photographic projects centered on communities and locales, such as THE END: MONTAUK, NY, about the surfing subculture in a traditional fishing village at the end of his native Long Island; and HABANA LIBRE, a privileged look at the secret lives of Cuba’s underground intelligentsia. He was a 2019 Sundance Institute Catalyst Forum fellow and Music and Sound Design Lab fellow. This is Dweck’s sophomore documentary feature.

  • Gregory Kershaw
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE LAST RACE (producer)

    Kershaw has a background working for Oscar-nominated filmmaker Geoffrey O’Connor (AT THE EDGE OF CONQUEST), who shares an interest in documenting subcultures, and as a cinematographer. He was a 2019 Sundance Institute Catalyst Forum fellow and Music and Sound Design Lab fellow. This is Kershaw’s documentary feature directorial debut.

Co-Producers:

  • René Simon Cruz Jr and Letizia Guglielmino

    This is the first Sundance credit for both Cruz and Guglielmino.

Associate Producers:

  • Hallee Adelman

    Adelman is a children’s book author and teacher who is committed to bettering the lives of children and family through education, storytelling, and film. She also serves as executive producer on THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, in Documentary Premieres, and US KIDS, in the US Documentary Competition.

  • Ivy Herman

    Herman is a philanthropist who has partnered with fellow executive producer Hallee Adelman to support film, television, and theatre projects with social impact or that serves children and families. She also executive produced THE SOCIAL DILEMMA and US KIDS.

  • Cecilia Luppi
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE LAST RACE

    Luppi, who is also Dweck’s wife, serves as the studio director and handles business development for Michael Dweck Studio.

Executive Producers:

  • Luca Guadagnino

    The Oscar-nominated filmmaker is a Sundance alumnus with fiction features CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and I AM LOVE, and as producer of the fiction short DIARCHIA.

  • Lance Acord
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE SENTENCE (2018)

    Park Pictures founder Acord also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance titles THE LAST SHIFT, in Premieres, and FAREWELL AMOR, in the US Dramatic Competition. He previously produced or executive produced Sundance alumni fiction features HEARTS BEAT LOUD, AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LIN, THE HERO, OTHER PEOPLE, COP CAR, GOD’S POCKET, ROBOT & FRANK.

  • Leslie Berriman & Nion McEvoy
    Past Sundance docs:

    ALWAYS IN SEASON (2019)
    RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS (2019)
    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (2018)
    INVENTING TOMORROW (2018)
    CHASING CORAL (2017)
    UNREST (2017)

    Berriman is executive editor at textbook publisher Pearson Education, while her partner McEvoy is the chairman and CEO of publishing giant the McEvoy Group. Their philanthropic work focuses on art, film, photography, and music, including the Smithsonian, SFMoMA, and SFJAZZ. They are also executive producers on fellow 2020 Sundance titles FEELS GOOD MAN and SPACESHIP EARTH, both in the US Documentary Competition.

  • Jackie Kelman Bisbee & Sam Bisbee
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE SENTENCE

    The Bisbees also serve as executive producers on US KIDS, and as producers on THE LAST SHIFT and FAREWELL AMOR. They have produced several Sundance fiction feature alumni projects, including HEARTS BEAT LOUD, AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN, THE HERO, OTHER PEOPLE, COP CAR, INFINITELY POLAR BEAR, GOD’S POCKET, and ROBOT & FRANK, through Park Pictures.

  • Geralyn White Dreyfous
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    ALWAYS IN SEASON
    THE GREAT HACK (2019)
    SHOOTING THE MAFIA
    306 HOLLYWOOD (2018)
    GENERATION WEALTH (2018)
    BISBEE ’17 (2018)
    OF FATHERS AND SONS (2018)
    OUR NEW PRESIDENT (2018)
    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR
    BENDING THE ARC (2017)
    STEP (2017)

    The Oscar and Emmy-winning co-founder of both Impact Partners and Gamechanger Films also has produced several Sundance fiction and VR alumni projects and has served as a creative advisor for Sundance’s Catalyst Forum. For the 2020 festival, she also serves as executive producer for SPACESHIP EARTH and US KIDS; ON THE RECORD, ASSASSINS, GIVING VOICE, and AGGIE (in Documentary Premieres); BORN INTO BROTHELS (in From the Collection); and executive producer/key collaborator for the New Frontier exhibition PERSUASION MACHINES.

  • Christos V Konstantakopoulos
    Past Sundance docs:

    KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE (2016)

    Konstantakopoulos also produced or executive produced Sundance alumni fiction features PITY, GOLDEN EXITS, LITTLE MEN, THE LOBSTER, LOVE IS STRANGE, LISTEN UP PHILIP, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, L, TAKE SHELTER, and ATTENBERG.

  • Wendy Neu
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE SENTENCE

    Entrepreneur and activist Neu is CEO of electronics recycling firm Hugo Neu and the sister of fellow executive producer Jackie Kelman Bisbee. She also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance features US KIDS, FAREWELL AMOR, and THE LAST SHIFT and previously executive produced GOD’S POCKET.

  • Cameron O’Reilly

    This is the first Sundance project executive produced by Irish-Australian investor and philanthropist O’Reilly.

  • Matthew Perniciaro and Michael Sherman

    Bow and Arrow Entertainment’s Perniciaro and Sherman also serve as executive producers of fellow 2020 Sundance titles THE FIGHT, in the US Documentary Competition, and producers of OMNIBOAT: A FAST BOAT FANTASIA, in Next. They previously produced or executive produced Sundance fiction feature alumni JOSHY, THE LITTLE HOURS, PERSON TO PERSON, GOLDEN EXITS, MADELINE’S MADELINE, SKATE KITCHEN, and NATIVE SON.

  • Patty Quillin
    Past Sundance docs:

    ALWAYS IN SEASON
    MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS (2019)
    THE DEVIL WE KNOW (2018)
    INVENTING TOMORROW
    THIS IS HOME (2018)
    BENDING THE ARC

    Philanthropist Quillin also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance doc feature ON THE RECORD. She has been a past creative advisor to Sundance’s Catalyst Forum and also supported the 2018 fiction title NIGHT COMES ON and 2017 Sundance VR project THE SKY IS A GAP. Quillin’s husband is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

  • Regina K Scully
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE (2019)
    ALWAYS IN SEASON
    THE GREAT HACK
    306 HOLLYWOOD
    GENERATION WEALTH
    BISBEE ’17
    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
    THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING (2018)
    STEP
    UNREST
    DOLORES (2017)

    The Artemis Rising Foundation founder and CEO is an Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated social entrepreneur and philanthropist focused on transforming culture through media, education, and the arts. She also executive produced US KIDS, AGGIE, and ON THE RECORD in this year’s festival.

  • Jim Swartz & Susan Swartz
    Past Sundance docs:

    OUR NEW PRESIDENT
    BENDING THE ARC
    ICARUS (2017)
    RACING EXTINCTION (2015)
    SEMBENE! (2015)
    E-TEAM (2014)
    PANDORA’S PROMISE (2013)
    CONNECTED (2011)
    SECRETS OF THE TRIBE (2010)
    TO CATCH A DOLLAR (2010)
    SERGIO (2009)
    SECRECY (2008)

    The technology venture capitalist and American landscape artist, respectively, are founding members of Impact Partners and longtime Park City residents. They executive produced this year’s US KIDS, and Jim Swartz also serves as an executive producer of THE DISSIDENT, in Documentary Premieres.

  • Lynda Weinman
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GREAT HACK
    HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING (2018)
    INVENTING TOMORROW
    CHASING CORAL
    CHASING CORAL: THE VR EXPERIENCE (2017, short)
    UNREST

    Weinman is a founder of the LinkedIn-acquired online software training website Lynda.com. She previously worked in animation and special effects for Hollywood studio films and taught digital media and graphics. Weinman also executive produced this year’s THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, US KIDS, and, in Documentary Premieres, DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ON SCREEN.

  • Jamie Wolf
    Past Sundance docs:

    WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? (2019)
    THE GREAT HACK
    AUDRIE & DAISY (2016)
    CITY OF GOLD (2015)

    Wolf is a journalist, editor, photographer, and member of Impact Partners. She also executive produced US KIDS.

Editor:

  • Charlotte Munch Bengtsen
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE LAST RACE

Why You Should Watch:
Full of true one-of-a-kind characters – and some photogenic dogs – Dweck and Kershaw’s film is an affectionate observational portrait of a place and activity that feels of a distinctly different era. Beautifully shot and precisely paced, it’s an accomplished follow up to their previous doc, and will make audiences want to travel to Piedmont themselves.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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