My Octopus Teacher

My Octopus Teacher is a 2020 Netflix Original documentary film directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, which documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest.

My Octopus Teacher
My Octopus Teacher.jpg
Netflix artwork
Directed by
  • Pippa Ehrlich
  • James Reed
Production
company
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • 4 September 2020 (2020-09-04) (Millennium Docs Against Gravity)[1]
  • 7 September 2020 (2020-09-07) (Netflix)
Running time
85 minutes
CountrySouth Africa
LanguageEnglish
Common Octopus

SynopsisEdit

The film shows how, in 2010, Foster began free-diving in a cold underwater kelp forest at a remote location in False Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa.[2][3] The location was near Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula,[4] which is exposed to the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean.[5] He started to document his experiences and, in time, met a curious young octopus that captured his attention. He decided to keep visiting her den and tracking her movements every day for a year to win the animal’s trust. The two form a bond where she plays with Foster and allows him into her world to see how she sleeps, lives, and eats. In the film, Foster describes the impact on his life of his relationship with the octopus.

The film shows Foster's growing intimate relationship with the octopus as he follows her around for nearly a year. It shows the octopus defending herself against pyjama sharks. In one attack, the octopus loses an arm, and retreats to her den to recover, slowly regenerating the arm over three months. In a later attack of a shark, she shows an incredibly improved creativity to survive, including sticking on the shark's back. Later, after mating with a bigger octopus and producing a large number of eggs, the octopus dies naturally while tending for her eggs and a shark takes her body away.

Foster describes the effect of this mentorship that the octopus provided him with as teaching him a lesson on the fragility of life and humanity's connection with nature.[6] This translated to Foster creating a deeper bond with his son as his son develops as a diver and marine life student.

CastEdit

  • Craig Foster, as himself
  • Tom Foster, Craig's son, as himself

ProductionEdit

In partnership with Sea Change Project, Off The Fence and ZDF Enterprises, My Octopus Teacher, was executive produced by Ellen Windemuth. It was directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed. Cinematography was directed by underwater cameraman Roger Horrocks with footage from Craig Foster and Roger Horrocks.[7][8][9] A smaller amount of underwater footage, not shown in the film but filmed by the same pairing at the same location, had already been shown on Blue Planet II, episode 5.[10]

Foster was also a producer via his involvement with the Sea Change Project,[11] and his wife, Indian environmental journalist Swati Thiyagarajan, was production manager for the film.[12]

Foster started filming in 2010; the film was ten years in the making and was the first South African nature documentary to be on Netflix Original.[13]

ReleaseEdit

My Octopus Teacher was released on 7 September 2020 on Netflix.[14]

AccoladesEdit

Award nominations for My Octopus Teacher
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards 25 April 2021 Best Documentary Feature Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster Pending [15]
British Academy Film Awards 11 April 2021 Best Documentary Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster Won [16]
Cinema Eye Honors Awards 9 March 2021 Audience Choice Prize Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed Nominated [17]
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography Roger Horrocks Nominated
Critics' Choice Documentary Awards 16 November 2020 Best Cinematography Roger Horrocks Won [18]
Best Science/Nature Documentary My Octopus Teacher Won
Best Narration Craig Foster Nominated [19]
Best Documentary My Octopus Teacher Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards 10 April 2021 Outstanding Directional Achievement in Documentary Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed Nominated [20]
EarthxFilm Festival 26 April 2020 Best Feature Film The Octopus Teacher Won [21]
Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival 17 December 2020 Best Documentary Director Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed Won [22]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards 18 January 2021 Best Documentary Feature My Octopus Teacher Won [23]
International Documentary Association Awards 16 January 2021 Best Music Score Kevin Smuts Won [24]
Best Writing Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed Nominated
Pare Lorentz Award Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster Won
Jackson Hole Film Festival 1 October 2020 Grand Teton Award My Octopus Teacher Won [25]
Best People & Nature Film - Long Form My Octopus Teacher Won
Best Science in Nature Film - Long Form My Octopus Teacher Won
Best Editing Pippa Ehrlich, Dan Schwalm and Jinx Godfrey Won
Best Ecosystem Film - Long Form My Octopus Teacher Nominated
Best Feature Film My Octopus Teacher Nominated
Best Cinematography Roger Horrocks and Craig Foster Nominated
Best Original Music Score Kevin Smuts Nominated
Best Audioscape Barry Donnelly Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards 24 March 2021 Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures Craig Foster Won [26]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards 11 January 2021 Best Documentary Film My Octopus Teacher Nominated [27]
St. Louis Film Critics Association Awards 17 January 2021 Best Documentary Feature My Octopus Teacher Nominated [28]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "My Octopus Teacher". Millennium Docs Against Gravity. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  2. ^ InterNewsCast (19 September 2020). "Where was 'My Octopus Teacher' on Netflix Filmed?". Internewscast. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  3. ^ "The (K)helpful forests of South Africa". CapeNature. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  4. ^ Allie, Mohammed (4 November 2018). "'How I became friends with an octopus'". BBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Cape Point And The Waters Of False Bay..." Simonstown.com. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  6. ^ "'My Octopus Teacher' Stuns Audiences, Reinforces Power of Nature". EcoWatch. 24 September 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  7. ^ Craig Foster. "Getting to Know an Octopus". BBC. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  8. ^ Katy Scott (21 September 2020). "The incredible tale of a South African diver who formed an unlikely bond with an octopus". CNN. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  9. ^ "My Octopus Teacher (2020)". IMDB. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  10. ^ Kathryn Jeffs. "Filming the octopus Houdini in South Africa". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Projects". Sea Change Project. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  12. ^ "SA filmmaker's documentary captivates the world". Algoa FM. 22 September 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  13. ^ "'Octopus Teacher' Lets Filmmaker Into Secret World". Voice of America - English. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  14. ^ "Tentacles of love: My octopus teacher, a story of an astonishing friendship". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Documentary Feature Oscar Nominations 2021". https://abc.com/shows/oscars. 15 March 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2021. External link in |website= (help)
  16. ^ "2021 EE British Academy Film Awards: The Nominations". BAFTA. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Cinema Eye Unveils Full Slate of Nominees for 14th Annual Nonfiction Honors". Cinema Eye Honors. 10 December 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  18. ^ Moreau, Jordan (16 November 2020). "'Dick Johnson Is Dead' Wins Best Feature at Critics Choice Documentary Awards". Variety. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  19. ^ Thompson, Anne (26 October 2020). "'Crip Camp,' 'Gunda,' and 'Mr. Soul!' Lead Critics Choice Documentary Awards Nominations". IndieWire. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  20. ^ "DGA Awards 2021". DGA. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  21. ^ "EarthxFilm Festival Award Winners". Earthx2020. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  22. ^ "2020 Golden Kapok Awards Winners Announced". Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. 17 December 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  23. ^ Neglia, Matt (18 January 2021). "The 2020 Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) Winners". Next Best Picture. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  24. ^ "36th Annual IDA Documentary Awards". International Documentary Association. 16 January 2021. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  25. ^ "2020 Media Awards". Jackson Hole Film Festival. 1 October 2020. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  26. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (2 February 2021). "'Truffle Hunters,' 'Time' and 'Dick Johnson Is Dead' Among Producers Guild Doc Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  27. ^ "San Diego Film Critics Society 2020 Awards Nominations". San Diego Film Critics Society. 8 January 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  28. ^ Neglia, Matt (10 January 2021). "The 2020 St. Louis Film Critics Association (StLFCA) Nominations". Next Best Picture. Retrieved 26 January 2021.

External linksEdit