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National Film and Television School

My Octopus Teacher is a Winner Again and Again and Again and ...
by Jason Peters
1 May 2021

There's been a lot of buzz about My Octopus Teacher this past month ... winning awards left right and centre, so I thought I'd do a round-up.

My Octopus Teacher - Netflix

My Octopus Teacher, produced by member Sea Change Project and Off the Fence; A Netflix Original Production, started collecting awards from the off last year, winning the Grand Teton Award (Best of Festival plus Best People & Nature Film – Long Form, Best Science in Nature Film – Long Form & Best Editing) at the Jackson Wild Media Awards, the Golden Panda at the Wildscreen Festival, Best Film at the Greenscreen Festival, Best Documentary or Reportage at the second #LabMeCrazy! Science Film Festival, Best Animal Behaviour at Wildlife Film Festival Rotterdam to name a few of the wildlife film festival nods.

My Octopus Teacher
Jackson Wild's Grand Teton Award win!

My Octopus Teacher | Official Trailer | Netflix

My Octopus Teacher
Winning Wildscreen's 2020 Golden Panda at the virtual awards ceremony!

A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.

My Octopus Teacher
Animal Behaviour Award win at WFFR

The film went on to win many more awards this year, outside of the more traditional wildlife-centric film festival awards, such as The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Picture, the producer being Craig Foster, at the Producers Guild of America Awards (24th March), followed by Best Documentary at the BAFTA Film Awards in the UK (10th April) and then the Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards (OSCARS) in the US (25th April).

My Octopus Teacher
The virtual BAFTAs win!

There are more accolades and nominations here: seachangeproject.com/my-octopus-teacher/awards-and-credits

“I haven’t made a film for 10 years but I think I have an amazing story.” Craig Foster in conversation with Pippa Ehrlich

My Octopus Teacher
Pippa and James at the OSCARS!

Here's a round up of some of the recent news on the multi-award-winning film:

My Octopus Teacher Documentary award acceptance for at the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2021:

Excited Speech for My Octopus Teacher's Documentary Win | EE BAFTA Film Awards 2021

Film-maker and naturalist Craig Foster, over the course of a year, follows a wild common octopus in a South Africa kelp forest. By tracking her movements daily, Foster develops a deeper understanding of the sea creature and her environment and relays the impact of this experience on his life. Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday spoke with My Octopus Teacher directors Pippa Ehrlich and Jim Reed.

93rd Oscars Spotlight - MY OCTOPUS TEACHER | Washington Post Live

Pippa & James's Oscars acceptance speech:

My Octopus Teacher wins Academy award for best Documentary feature!

Craig on the film's Oscars win:

My Octopus Teacher: Craig Foster honoured to win Oscar

Uncovering undersea mysteries in My Octopus Teacher

Netflix’s My Octopus Teacher, a nature documentary chronicling the incredible friendship between a filmmaker and an octopus, charmed audiences across the globe. The insightful and fascinating film brought people together last year during an unprecedented and uncertain time. The film has won multiple awards this season, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, ACE Eddie Award for Best Edited Documentary (Feature), and BAFTA Award for Best Documentary.

Co-director and co-editor Pippa Ehrlich takes us behind the scenes of the stunning documentary and shares her journey to making the film: blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2021/04/16/uncovering-undersea-mysteries-in-my-octopus-teacher.html

Watch the Untold Story from Oscar and Bafta Award-winning My Octopus Teacher

Watch the Untold Story from Oscar and Bafta Award-winning My Octopus Teacher

On WaterBear, watch an exclusive interview with Oscar winners Ellen Windemuth and Craig Foster. Find out more about the untold story of My Octopus Teacher. Craig and Ellen reflect on their 20 years of friendship - from how they met to the projects they worked on together, culminating with the creation of the film.

Visit: waterbear.com/player/6080796c8104430c88cc4a31

My Octopus Teacher
Jannes Landschoff, Charles Griffiths and Craig Foster in False Bay. Photo Michelle Carpenter.

Science and the making of My Octopus Teacher

The news that My Octopus Teacher had won an Oscar for the Best Documentary at the 93rd Academy Awards was met with elation in the Cape Peninsula’s Deep South where naturalist, film-maker and co-star Craig Foster lives and freedives. But underpinning the film was his relationship with two University of Cape Town (UCT) marine biologists, Foster’s science and marine tracking mentors. They are friend and fellow seashore explorer Charles Griffiths, now an emeritus professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and UCT alumnus Dr Jannes Landschoff, who is listed as scientific advisor on My Octopus Teacher. Some years before Foster encountered his octopus co-star, he’d learned how to track and understand marine life in False Bay’s rich intertidal region in the company of the scientists. Foster is involved in the Sea Change Project, a not-for-profit organisation with a mandate to conserve the oceans and human origin heritage. In an interview with UCT News in 2017, Foster recounted how his job as a wildlife film-maker and advocate for the oceans came from his ability to communicate science in “pictures and stories”. But it was while he was living and hunting with the San that he realised his access to the ecosystem and its biology was very limited. “They track with sound, so they can find animals kilometres away. Because their hearing is phenomenal and they speak the languages of animals, birds and insects, I felt I was in a silent world and they were in a world of gigantic symphony. “But I wasn’t able to speak that science language very well and Charles kindly offered to let me join him and Jannes,” he said. And with Griffiths’s 50 years of scholarship and big-picture thinking, this was immersion of a different kind. The San also taught him that there were no shortcuts to deep connection.

Read more: news.uct.ac.za/article/-2021-04-29-science-and-the-making-of-my-octopus-teacher

Swati Thiyagarajan, the environmental journalist and production manager of My Octopus Teacher talks about the Oscar Award-winning documentary, how an octopus helped her husband and the protagonist-producer of the documentary Craig Foster overcome a tough phase in his life.

Swati Thiyagarajan on the Oscar Award-winning "My Octopus Teacher" | Craig Foster

I am so happy for Craig, Swati, Pippa, James, Tom, Ellen and the whole Sea Change Project/Off the Fence team ... So, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS from me and the entire Wildlife-film.com community!!

Want your own Wild Teacher?

My Wild Teacher

Find your wild teacher & share your own story: mywildteacher.com #MyWildTeacher

Full My Octopus Teacher Credits

Directed By Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed
Produced By Craig Foster
Director Of Photography Roger Horrocks & Craig Foster
Executive Producer Ellen Windemuth
Sound Design Barry Donnelly
Original Music Kevin Smuts
Consultant Editor Jinx Godfrey
Editors Pippa Ehrlich & Dan Schwalm
Colorist Kyle Stroebel
Underwater Photography Craig Foster
Topside Photography Warren Smart
Aerial Photography Tom Foster
Additional Photography Pippa Ehrlich & Dave Aenme
Written By Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed
Additional Music Mathew Dennis, Tom Foster & Ronan Skillen
Sound Recording Louw Verwoerd, Hilton Auffray & Tom Foster
Production Manager Swati Thiyagarajan
Scientific Advisers Emeritus Professor Charles Griffiths, Dr Jannes Landschoff & Professor Jennifer Mather
Associate Producers Swati Thiyagarajan, Ross Frylinck & Carina Frankal
Production Assistant Faine Loubser
Production Finance Foster Brothers Film

For Off The Fence

Head Of Production Karen Meehan
Production Manager Stuart Hoole
Production Secretary Charlotte Kingdom
Co-executive Producers Allison Bean & Andrew Zikking
Associate Producers Sam Barton-humphreys & Ludo Dufour
General Counsel Michelle Bruce
Production Finance Marcel Derksen, Menno Fennema
Graphics & Titles Max Phillips


Digital Imaging Producer Jade Kohler
Post Supervisor Lauren Van Rensburg
Mastering Technician Armien Baradien
Conform Editor Danielle Nel
Online Editor Lamees Martin


Audio One
Foley Artist Charl Mostert
Technical Support Lynne Brennan, Michael Brennan, Tom Osborn


Foster Brothers Film
Roger Horrocks
Michael Raimondo


Sara Edelson, Michael Raimondo, Parker Family, Mapula Trust, Prannoy Roy, Rhadika Roy, Louis Herman, Anthony Mitchell, Brian Bergman, Friedl Le Roux, Yvette Oosthuizen, Deirdre Sims, Michael Sims, Scott Ramsay, Jerry Lemba Lemba, Toren Wing, Jason Boswell, Miguel Oliveira, Aimee Kuhl, Danielle Ehrlich, Lisa Beasley, Mike Duffet, Erik Meijer, Georgia Thompson, Ian Mcallum, Mike Nortje, John Chambers, Monica Rorvick, Craig Fraser, Libby Doyle, Christopher Henshilwood, Colin Bell, Diana Foster, Keith Foster, Natasha Dryden

Visit: seachangeproject.com/my-octopus-teacher/awards-and-credits

IG: instagram.com/seachangeproject FB: facebook.com/theseachangeproject

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