SA doccie ‘My Octopus Teacher’

Photo: Netflix

SA doccie ‘My Octopus Teacher’ makes Oscars shortlist

The 2020 Netflix Original documentary film, ‘My Octopus Teacher’, made the Oscars shortlist for Documentary Feature.

SA doccie ‘My Octopus Teacher’

Photo: Netflix

South African documentary, My Octopus Teacher has made the Oscars shortlist for Documentary Feature and will compete against 14 others for the ultimate nod.

‘My Octopus Teacher’ makes Oscars shortlist

My Octopus Teacher, that also nabbed eight nominations at the Jackson Wild Media Awards and went on to win the Grand Teton Award, will hopefully be one of the documentaries that will compete at the Academy Awards when the ceremony takes place later this year. The documentary is one of fifteen that was selected out of 238 films eligible films.

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

Other shortlist candidates in the Documentary Feature category

  • All In: The Fight for Democracy – directed by Lisa Cortes, Liz Garbus
  • Boys State –  directed by Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss
  • Collective – directed by Alexander Nanau
  • Crip Camp – directed by James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham
  • Dick Johnson Is Dead – directed by Kirsten Johnson
  • Gunda – directed by Viktor Kosakovskiy
  • MLK/FBI – directed by Sam Pollard
  • The Mole Agent – directed by Maite Alberdi
  • My Octopus Teacher – directed by Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed
  • Notturno – directed by Gianfranco Rosi
  • The Painter and the Thief – directed by Benjamin Ree
  • 76 Days – directed by Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous
  • Time – directed by Garrett Bradley
  • The Truffle Hunters – directed by Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw
  • Welcome to Chechnya – directed by David France

About My Octopus Teacher

The documentary, that was produced by Craig Foster and directed by Pippa Ehrlich and award-winning filmmaker James Reed, tells the story of Foster, suffering from a loss of purpose, who begins a daily diving regimen in the freezing kelp forests at the tip of Africa in order to re-energize himself.

“What he discovers below the water’s surface is a totally alien motivation in the form of an unusually curious octopus. This beautiful record of an animal’s entire life -something seldom achieved in the wild, let alone underwater – was shot over a full year and explores the habits and personality of a strange, undulating creature that most of us have only ever eaten.

“Beyond intelligent, dextrous and resilient, the cephalopod shares her secret world with Foster as they develop a touching bond. The underwater encounters are literally breathtaking as Foster holds his breath while interacting with the octopus. An immersive portrait of human-animal understanding, brimming with danger, drama and devastating emotion, My Octopus Teacher grabs you with all eight arms and changes its camouflage – showing you colours and textures you’ve never seen before.”

And so after nearly four years of editing, and 10 years of diving in the forest, Foster released the doccie in 2020.


It’s said that the Academy Awards was due to be staged on 28 February 2021 but will now take place on 25 April. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars, also extended the eligibility window from 31 December to the end of February 2021.

This was done as there is “a much-needed boost for those films who may have been stalled in post-production”. The Academy has also temporarily relaxed its eligibility rules; previously, films must have been shown in a Los Angeles cinema for at least a week. But with cinemas still closed, films that debut on streaming services will be eligible.  

“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a joint statement.