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The South African documentary My Octopus Teacher took home Oscar gold at the 2021 Academy Awards.
The annual ceremony took place on 25 April in Los Angeles.
The film’s co-directors Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed were present to receive the award and give speeches.
“In many ways, this really is a tiny personal story that played out in a sea forest at the very tip of Africa,” Ehrlich said after receiving the award.
“But on a more universal level, I hope that it provided a glimpse of a different kind of relationship between human beings and the natural world.”
My Octopus Teacher is a win for local storytelling
The film was nominated in the Best Documentary category alongside Collective, Crip Camp, The Mole Agent, and Time.
“It’s a great and totally overwhelming honour to be here,” James Reed said. “Thank you so much to the Academy and all the incredible films in our category. It’s really humbling and amazing.”
The Oscar win comes not long after My Octopus Teacher won a BAFTA for Best Documentary in London on 11 April. The film also won Best Documentary Motion Picture at the Producers Guild of America awards.
My Octopus Teacher debuted on Netflix in September 2020. It is the first South African documentary to be a Netflix Original.
The film follows nature filmmaker and Cape Town diver Craig Foster as he interacts with a common octopus. The film also deals with Foster’s relationship with his family.
Filming took place in the sea forests of False Bay. Foster began documenting his experience in 2010.
Before My Octopus Teacher, some of the footage Foster shot was used for the BBC nature series Blue Planet II.
Other Oscar winners
The big winner of the evening was Nomadland starring Frances McDormand. The film won three out of six nominated categories including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director for Chloé Zhao.
It was a successful night for Netflix, whose films took home a total of seven awards across 36 nominations. The streaming service had 17 films up for Oscar gold. Netflix winners included Mank for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for Best Costume and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor for his performance in The Father. However, the win received criticism. Late actor Chadwick Boseman was expected to win posthumously for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Feature image: Netflix