February 01, 2020
Critics sniffing out gems at the US indie film festival found an Italian foodie treat, a career high for Miranda July – and solid proof that a Peter Pan remake rarely flies
Risky turns and buried treasure: the best of Sundance 2020
As glamorous as covering the Sundance film festival can be – this year’s opening night delivered Taylor Swift to wintry Park City, Utah – it’s an assignment that can make a critic feel like a dog. You’re constantly nosing around for new treasures: buzzy finds, hopefully wonderful. You’re eating scraps at parties or in alleys. You always have to pee.
So it made perfect sense when, early in the week, we found The Truffle Hunters – the most apt movie that will ever emerge from a film festival, anywhere. It’s an exquisite, frequently funny documentary about an Italian trade in its twilight phase: the woodsy pursuit of ultra-expensive white Alba truffles undertaken by elderly men and their canine companions (who do all the work). We come to know and love these dogs, with names like Birba and Titina, blessed by sombre priests who pray for a lucky season, and doted on like gifted children. And while co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (of 2018’s gorgeous The Last Race) strap a wearable camera on a pooch’s head for some killer footage, their perspective is usually one of elegant distance, all the better to tease out notes of darkening fortune and human-animal kinship. An instant foodie hit (Sony Picture Classics snapped it up), it was the closest thing to a consensus favourite.
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