Vol. 14, No. 13 – Mar 24 – April 6, 2021 – Movie Review

Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
My Octopus Teacher
Netflix Films – 2021 Oscar Nominee

4 out of 4 palm trees

“My Octopus Teacher” is the incredible true story of diver Craig Foster’s unique experience with an octopus in a kelp forest off the coast of South Africa that opens viewers’ eyes to secluded and mysterious sea world, while also revealing how connected things truly are and that our worlds are more similar than most would imagine.

About 20 years ago, Foster was on a project making a film with his brother in the central Kalahari, where he witnessed the incredible skills of some of the best trackers in world that were able to follow incredibly subtle signs in nature and find hidden animals in the landscape. Foster could see the trackers were inside the world around them while he was outside, and had a deep longing to be inside that world.

After that Foster went through two years of pressure, family issues and fatigue from long shoots and put down his camera not wanting anything to do with film making or editing anymore. He returned to his childhood home on the coast on the tip of South Africa with his family to try to put the pieces of his life back together again. Taking inspiration from his childhood and from the master trackers, Foster knew he needed a radical change and returned to the ocean.

Foster was a free diver and after a year began to crave the cold waters and three dimensional forests that lie below the surface, where he found peace swimming freely through the kelp. Foster knew having a scuba tank would impede his movement through a kelp forest and did not wear a wet suit to be more like an amphibious animal and closer to his environment.

After about a year of immersion in his sea life, Foster picked up his camera again and began filming the exotic and strange underwater world he had come to know, which helped him to get back to the filmmaking life he loved. He described this underwater world as being much more extreme than the maddest science fiction, and again found joy in capturing it on camera.

While diving in a special secluded area in the kelp forest, a pile of nearly 100 shells and stones lying in the sand caught his eye, which shortly thereafter fell apart to reveal an octopus that quickly swam away. Foster followed her back to her den and got a unique feeling that there was some connection between him and the octopus.

Foster decided to visit the octopus daily and after about a week had his first physical contact with her that grew into a beautiful connection they shared daily for nearly an entire year, which is the approximate lifespan of an octopus. Believing in letting nature take its course, Foster helplessly witnessed some challenging things in the natural life cycle of this octopus he had come to care for and know intimately.

“My Octopus Teacher” is an incredible documentary that has as many edge of your seat moments as an action thriller and through his experiences with the octopus over the course of a year, Foster unveils the physical and emotional connections shared by all living things.

Runtime: 1h 25m

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