SA documentary My Octopus Teacher makes Oscars shortlist

Craig Foster and the octopus in My Octopus Teacher.
Craig Foster and the octopus in My Octopus Teacher.
Photo: Tom Foster/Netflix

The South African documentary My Octopus Teacher has made the Oscars shortlist for Documentary Feature. The film will is now up against 14 other projects that are being considered for nomination.

The nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced on Monday, 15 March.

Directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed the film centres on award-winning filmmaker, Craig Foster who develops a friendship with a curious octopus while diving in the Atlantic Ocean.

Speaking about the film to Channel24, Pippa said: "It was just so exciting for me to be part of something I've always wanted to do and you feel like you've got this amazing experienced person who is going to be on that road with you, and I knew, I knew this was an excellent story.

"I realised that we had something that was very, very unique and very powerful and I've never seen anything like it."

The film on 16 November 2020 won two awards at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards (CCDA). It was the only film to take home more than one trophy - winning in the categories Best Science/Nature Documentary and Best Cinematography.

In August 2020 the film nabbed eight nominations at the Jackson Wild Media Awards and went on to win the Grand Teton Award. It also won the Best Feature Film award at the EarthX film festival.

The documentary also recently inspired a limited series of swimwear by Cape Town based brand, Granadilla. Only 100 pairs of the beautifully designed shorts were up for sale at the cost of R990.

The documentary films on the shortlist are: 

All In: The Fight for Democracy

Boys State


Crip Camp

Dick Johnson Is Dead



The Mole Agent

My Octopus Teacher


The Painter and the Thief

76 Days


The Truffle Hunters

Welcome to Chechnya

ALSO READ: Two African films make the Oscars International Feature Film shortlist

Compiled by Leandra Engelbrecht

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