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The Charming Documentary Where Truffle-Hunting Dogs Are The Stars

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When Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw decided to make a documentary about the secretive world of Italian truffles, they asked a local trattoria owner to introduce them to the restaurant’s supplier. Only then did Dweck and Kershaw realize what they’d gotten themselves into. “He said, ‘Oh, I’ve never met the guy,’” Kershaw recalled. “‘Every night I put the money in a box outside the door. The next morning, there’s a truffle.’”

These gastronomic excavators — at least the ones in Northern Italy’s Piedmont hills, where “The Truffle Hunters” takes place — are a rarified bunch: aging technophobes who deploy their well-trained dogs to sniff out and unearth small fungi that can sell for thousands of dollars per kilo. Many of them have done this their whole lives. Now they face a business threatened by climate change and over-commercialization, hence their stealth. Some dealers prefer to make transactions in the dead of night, cloaked by relative anonymity. 

Dweck and Kershaw spent upwards of three months acquainting themselves with the region and its practitioners before shooting any footage. They’d meet someone at a trattoria, for example, who would introduce them to a cousin who knew someone who knew someone who was a truffle hunter. The next challenge came in making that person feel comfortable enough to allow cameras. Unsure exactly what the resulting movie would entail, Dweck and Kershaw — both American — traveled with a translator who was so critical to the process they gave her a producer credit. It took them three years to finish the film, which has been shortlisted for the Oscars’ Best Documentary Feature category. (It is now playing in select theaters and will premiere on video-on-demand platforms this spring. Luca Guadagnino, the director of “Call Me by Your Name” and “We Are Who We Are,” is also a producer.) 



“We saw this world as a fairy tale, and we wanted to take the audience through, painting by painting by painting,” Michael Dweck said.

“We wanted to understand the world of the people that we were filming,” Kershaw said during a recent phone conversation. “We wanted to understand the web of relationships that surrounded them. We wanted to be able to just experience the world and feel it deeply and look at it from all sorts of different angles — and maybe find moments of beauty or peculiarity, things that maybe you would miss on first glance, but by spending a lot of time, you discovered. We became friends with them. We shared a lot of meals. We talked about our lives. We talked about why we wanted to make this film, why we thought their lives were so important, why we thought their lives were so full of wisdom.”

Because of its picturesque setting, “The Truffle Hunters” has an elegance that most vérité documentaries can’t match. It looks like a series of paintings. Dweck and Kershaw don’t use talking-head interviews or history lessons to steer the narrative, instead chronicling the specific customs of five hunters and their precious pooches.

There’s 84-year-old Aurelio, who is concerned about what will happen to his sweet hound Birba when he dies. And Carlo, a jaunty 88-year-old known for sneaking out of his window at night to go hunting with Titina against his wife’s wishes. The most idiosyncratic of them is Angelo, a disenchanted poet who quit because rival hunters started planting poison to kill the dogs. He once threatened someone with a machete, Kershaw said. It took the directors two years and a lot of Gorgonzola to convince him to participate. 

“It was like this constant dance to try to be in these places where they could be unencumbered in front of the camera and we could just sit there and really watch,” Dweck said. “Once they felt like we were part of their family, only then did we take the camera out. We saw this world as a fairy tale, and we wanted to take the audience through, painting by painting by painting.”

Angelo Gagliardi, a 78-year-old former hunter who quit because rival hunters started planting poison to kill the dogs.



Angelo Gagliardi, a 78-year-old former hunter who quit because rival hunters started planting poison to kill the dogs.

Following the men’s adventures — it’s always men; the region’s women have their own secrets, Dweck promised — feels like entering a storybook. A community untouched by cell phones, Wi-Fi and other markers of modernity, the subjects in “The Truffle Hunters” might as well be living in the 1950s. But they aren’t merely stuck in the past; they remain connected to nature in a way that many of the planet’s inhabitants don’t. Their soulfulness is aspirational.

Dweck and Kershaw shot at least two hours of footage for every minute we see in the finished film, using natural light to accentuate the overwhelming majesty. Eventually, the directors accompanied their new friends to doctor’s appointments, haircuts, lunches and the intense exhibitions where prized truffles are marketed. Along the way, they would share what they’d recorded, ensuring everyone understood the documentary’s aims. Elsewhere, Dweck and Kershaw attached GoPros to the dogs as they sped through forests to dig up morsels.

Truffles originated as a European luxury. The sought-after Alba white variation grows near the roots of oak trees and depends on fertile environmental conditions. Finding them is “like finding gold,” Kershaw said. American farmers have started to cultivate their own crops in recent years. They, too, utilize dogs for the grunt work. In Oregon, the Truffle Dog Company offers training and consultation. But it’s a lot harder — and quite expensive — to grow the product by hand. An industrial engineer profiled in The Wall Street Journal in 2017 said she’d spent $500,000 to plant 24 acres’ worth. But even as domestic truffle enterprises expand, they lack the organic joys of the Italian experience.

The white Alba truffle is found in the Piedmont region of Italy.



The white Alba truffle is found in the Piedmont region of Italy.

“The Truffle Hunters” is an enchanting portrait of stalwarts who have maintained the lives they want to lead, even as society has moved on. Their dogs steal the show — especially Birba, who might as well be a Pixar character — but the film is a charming and poignant testament to humanity. It speaks to the mythology of the truffle itself: Some hunters believe the delicacy grows according to lightning patterns or phases of the moon; others call it witchcraft. All agree it’s an ideal way to bond with a pet.

“We needed to make this film because it possessed a beauty and a magic,” Kershaw said. “It possessed a mystery that just seemed bigger than real life to us. The people that we were encountering, they seemed bigger than life. Our hope is that it reflects back to the audience and they feel that. It should take you to another place. It should be filled with a kind of magic that doesn’t feel like it’s part of this world, because that’s what this place was.”



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Joe Rogan Admits He’s A ‘F**king Moron’ After Offering Selfish COVID-19 Vaccine Advice

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Wildly popular podcast host Joe Rogan admitted he’s a “f**king moron” and “not a respected source of information, even for me” when he addressed his selfish comments about young, healthy people not needing to get vaccinated from COVID-19.

Rogan, whose audience is in the hundreds of millions, drew backlash — and a rebuke from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert — when he said on an episode of his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast released on Spotify last week that “if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”

On Thursday, Rogan clarified in a video shared on YouTube that he was “not an anti-vaxx person.” “In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated,” he explained. “I just said, ‘I don’t think that if you’re a young, healthy person that you need it.’ Their argument was, you need it for other people.”

“So you don’t transmit the other virus,” said his cohost.

“That makes more sense,” agreed Rogan. “But that’s a different argument. That’s a different conversation.”

Rogan, whose show was snapped up by Spotify in a $100 million deal last year, later attempted to explain away the comments by saying how he doesn’t plan what he says on air.

He’s often high or drinking alcohol during the shows, he said, before accusing “clickbaity” journalists of blowing his comments out of proportion.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron and I’m a cage fighting commentator who’s a dirty standup comedian who just told you I’m drunk most of the time and I do testosterone and I smoke a lot of weed but I’m not a respected source of information, even for me,” he said.

“If I say things, I’m always going ‘check on that Jamie, I don’t know if that’s true,’” Rogan added. “But I at least try to be honest about what I’m saying.”

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus



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Gabrielle Union Talks Baby Kaavia’s Free Spirit: ‘Shade Is Her Super Power’

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Gabrielle Union recently talked about her daughter, Kaavia James, and her funny “shady” moments, characterizing those times as her 2-year-old’s “super power.”

“Shade is her super power because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like,” the actor told People in an interview published Wednesday.

Union and her retired NBA star husband, Dwyane Wade, welcomed Kaavia in November 2018.

The couple has since poked fun at the toddler’s occasional adorably shady facial expressions — and hilarious side-eyes — like when a photo of Kaavia seated on a couch looking pensive and slightly unbothered became a meme last year.

Or when the little one looked less than pleased with the outcome of her face paint design at her second birthday party:

Inspired by Kaavia’s witty personality, Wade and Union created an Instagram account for the little girl, often using the hashtag ”#Shadybaby” in the posts’ captions. The couple also collaborated to write a Kaavia-influenced children’s book titled “Shady Baby” due for release next month.

Union explained in Wednesday’s People interview that she celebrates Kaavia’s freedom to be her authentic self amid a long history of harmful ways Black women and girls have been treated in society.

“The main takeaway is that she’s free to be this amazing, dynamic, shady at times, loving at times Black little girl when the world has not been so kind to Black girls and women,” she added.

In addition to Kaavia, Wade is father to Zaya, Zaire and Xavier. Union and Wade also parent his nephew Dahveon Morris.

Wade told People that he and Union make a point to encourage their children to be their true selves.

“If we allow our kids to be their true selves we don’t have to worry about them conforming with anything or anyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we push our kids to be their authentic selves?”

Last month, Kaavia took a side-eyeing break to enjoy a sweet play date with 2-year-old Cairo, the daughter of actors Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict.

After some hugs, Kaavia generously took Cairo for a spin in her toddler-sized electric car:





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Anne Heche Says Ellen DeGeneres Didn’t Want Her To ‘Dress Sexy’

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Anne Heche took an unexpected swipe at former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres this week during an online fashion retrospective.

In a short TikTok video Tuesday, Heche looked back at some of her favorite looks from years past, including the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards and a memorable “Dancing with the Stars” routine from last fall.

The actor’s enthusiasm for nostalgia, however, notably dipped when she came upon a photo of her and DeGeneres from the 1998 Golden Globe Awards. The pair appear to have color-coordinated their outfits, with DeGeneres in a navy suit and Heche in a blue velvet gown and matching coat.

“Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy,” Heche, who has starred in films like “Donnie Brasco” and “Six Days, Seven Nights,” declared. After giving the look a zero out of 10 and a thumbs down, she added, “Bye, no!”

Heche and DeGeneres dated from 1997 to 2000. During their time together, the women were among Hollywood’s most-buzzed-about same-sex couples.

The former couple has remained mostly tight-lipped about the specifics of their relationship in the media. Heche, however, touched on her ex in a number of interviews timed to her appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” last year.

Chatting with Mr. Warburton magazine last year, she recalled angering Hollywood executives when she brought DeGeneres as her date to the premiere of 1997’s “Volcano.”

“I was told by Fox Studio executives that if I brought Ellen to the premiere, my contract would be terminated,” she told the publication. “I brought Ellen despite those threats, and we were escorted out of the theater before the lights came on by security and not allowed to attend the premiere party because they did not want any photos of us together.”



Ellen DeGeneres (left) and Anne Heche at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards.

“I was a part of a revolution that created social change,” she added, “and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last October, Heche noted that she hadn’t spoken to DeGeneres “in years,” but would be open to a reunion under the right circumstances.

“With relationships, I think many of us have [been there], you come to a fork in the road, ‘What do you want and what do I want?’” she said. “Those goals, that intent in life, is determined by the individual. Her intent and my intent were different and that’s why we separated.”



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Elliot Page Emotionally Shares What’s Given Him The Most Joy Since Coming Out As Trans

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Elliot Page is sharing the moment that has brought him the most joy since he announced he was a transgender man in December 2020.

In a peek at an interview with Oprah Winfrey slated for release on her Apple TV+ series “The Oprah Conversation” on Friday, the 34-year-old said that he’s found “the most joy.”

“Getting out of the shower and the towel’s around your waist and you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and you’re just like, ‘There I am.’ And I’m not having the moment where I’m panicked,” he said, before breaking down in tears. “It’s being able to touch my chest and feel comfortable in my body for the — probably the first time.”

The actor added his tears were “tears of joy.”

Earlier this year, Page talked to Time magazine about his decision to get top surgery and described the experience as something that allowed for him to recognize himself. Page recalled puberty as “total hell” and told the publication that the surgery “has completely transformed my life.”

He also told the publication that he spent much of his energy being uncomfortable with his body and the surgery has helped bring that energy back.

Page notably came out to fans last year with a heartfelt Instagram post, sharing that he would be using the pronouns “he” and “they” and said: “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

He went on to say: “I love that I am trans,” Page wrote. “And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”  



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‘Bachelor’ Matt James Is Seeing Final Rose Recipient With Racist Past

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It isn’t over.

Matt James, who became the first Black lead of the dating reality series “The Bachelor,” told People on Wednesday that he’s been seeing Rachael Kirkconnell, the woman he chose but then rejected after her past racially insensitive social media posts were unearthed.

“I’ve seen Rachael a handful of times,” James said. “I’m not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it.”

Kirkconnell received James’ final rose on ABC’s reality series. After the season was in the can, pictures emerged on social media showing Georgia native Kirkconnell attending a slavery-era plantation-themed party and liking photos containing Confederate flags.

Kirkconnell apologized and said she “will continue to learn how to be anti-racist.” James said in the “After the Final Rose” episode last month that they broke up and that Kirkconnell had work to do on her own.

As for her progress, James told People “that’s something you could talk to her about.”

A report last week said the two were not speaking to each other, but that does not appear to be the case.

Stay tuned.





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Halle Berry Reacts To A Joke About Her Blunt Bob Debut At The Oscars

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Halle Berry joined the fun on Twitter after she debuted her new bob hairstyle at the 2021 Oscars on Sunday night.

The Oscar winner responded to a Twitter user who linked her new ’do to a popular lighthearted video from rapper Saucy Santana, who channels Nicki Minaj from the B.o.B. song “Out of My Mind” while rocking a bob.

“Halle Berry tonight,” the user tweeted on Sunday alongside the video. Berry retweeted the post on Tuesday and playfully responded with two emojis, including a laughing-face one:

Berry stunned on the Oscars red carpet in a pink-toned Dolce & Gabbana gown that featured a prominent bow. She showed off her new bob with bangs after she teased the hairstyle on Twitter earlier in the evening with a photo that only showed her hair chopped off.

Her hairstyle sparked a lot chatter on Twitter, with people sharing memes and all sorts of opinions of the ’do.

The legendary actor and style icon, who made history becoming the first (and still only) Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2002, apparently wasn’t phased by the blunt-bob-detractors.

Berry arrived at the ceremony with her Grammy-winning musician boyfriend Van Hunt.

Hunt posted photos on Instagram Monday of him and Berry getting ready to attend the ceremony. His caption said it was the couple’s first date night. The two publicly confirmed their relationship on Instagram in September last year.





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Kate Middleton, Prince William Mark 10th Anniversary With New Portraits

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Kate Middleton and Prince William are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary with brand-new photos.

Kensington Palace released two portraits on behalf of the couple on Wednesday, one day before their anniversary. The new pictures were snapped earlier this week at the palace by photographer Chris Floyd.





The two appear to have recreated the official photo William and Kate released for their engagement, which was taken by Mario Testino:

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have been together nearly 20 years, officially tied the knot at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. Millions lined the wedding procession route, while an estimated 2 billion tuned in from around the world.

Celebrities including Elton John, Guy Ritchie and David and Victoria Beckham made up some of the 1,900 guests invited to the ceremony. Ellie Goulding performed at the couple’s evening reception, an honor she called quite “scary.”

“I did their first dance and like, talk about scary,” the singer told Vanity Fair in 2016. “I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, in London.



The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge smile following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, in London.

Ten years since their wedding day, the duke and duchess now have three children: Prince George, 7; Princess Charlotte, 5; and Prince Louis, 3.

William and Kate celebrated Louis’ birthday last week by releasing a brand-new photo of their little one taken before his first day at nursery school.

Louis’ birthday is just two days after his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s big day.

The queen turned 95 on April 21 and released a statement thanking people for the tributes to her late husband, Prince Philip.

“My family and I would like to thank you for all the support and kindness shown to us in recent days,” she said. “We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”

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Kate Middleton’s Most Memorable Looks Of 2019



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