Watch | South Africa’s My Octopus Teacher wins the Oscar for best documentary

My Octopus Teacher
Directors Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed | Picture: REUTERS/CHRIS PIZZELLO

South Africa is celebrating after the world-renowned film, My Octopus Teacher, brought home an Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards.

The 2021 Oscar Awards was streamed live from both Union Station in Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on April 25th. Directors, Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed accepted the award for best documentary 2021, beating four other incredible titles including, The Mole Agent (Chile), Time (US), Collective (Romania) and Crip Camp (US).

The 2020 Netflix original feature documents a year spent by filmmaker and producer Craig Foster, who began freediving in a freezing underwater forest in 2010. Soon, a curious young octopus captured his attention. By visiting her den and tracking her movements every day for months, he won the animal’s trust and they developed an unlikely relationship.

Aside from winning awards at a list of various film festivals, My Octopus Teacher also scooped up the Bafta award (British Academy Film Award) for best documentary earlier this month.

On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphoa penned a letter to the filmmakers in which he said the documentary has opened a window into the natural beauty and diversity of South Africa’s oceans and marine ecosystems. “This documentary will encourage a greater appreciation and advocacy for marine conservation at a time when ocean degradation is a growing global problem,” Ramaphosa wrote.

Read More | Watch: SA film My Octopus Teacher wins BAFTA for Best Documentary

The president expressed also his hopes that the documentary would be translated into many African languages and for the film to be shown in schools, “in this regard, I am greatly encouraged that the documentary will be translated into multiple South African languages. I call on the producers of My Octopus Teacher to ensure it gains greater distribution locally, especially in our schools. Bringing home the Oscar will indeed be a crowning achievement for the production team and for our country.”

“The team should be justifiably proud, as are we, that My Octopus Teacher has been nominated in the Best Documentary category for this year’s Academy Awards – a first-ever for a South African documentary. This Oscar nomination is part of a long list of commendations and awards the documentary has received.” You can read the full letter over here.

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