Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed’s My Octopus Teacher took home the best documentary feature award at the 2021 Oscars, held Sunday (April 25) at the Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Center.
The film documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster as he forged a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest.
“Thank you to the Academy and thank you to all of our incredible nominees who spent so many years, and I presume a lot of tears, making beautiful important films, and bringing them into the world,” Ehrlich said. “I know there are many South Africans who are awake in the middle of the night to watch the ceremony. And in many ways, this really is a tiny personal story that played out in a sea forest at the very tip of Africa. But on a more universal level. I hope that provided a glimpse of a different kind of relationship between human beings and the natural world.”
“It’s a great, totally overwhelming honor to be here and thank you so much to the Academy, and all the incredible films in our category, it’s really humbling and amazing,” Reed added.
Nominees in the category included James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham’s Crip Camp, Alexander Nanau’s Collective, Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent and Garrett Bradley’s Time.
Collective, a Romanian documentary about a group of investigative journalists uncovering health-care fraud after a deadly nightclub fire in Bucharest, was also nominated in the Best International Feature Film category. That award went to Thomas Vinterberg’s scripted film Another Round.
The nominees were selected from a record-breaking longlist of 238 features eligible for consideration, which were revealed Jan. 28. The longlist was nearly 80 films longer than last year’s list of 159 films.
Another big winner on the night was Anthony Giacchino’s Colette in the best documentary short subject category. The other nominees included A Concerto Is a Conversation, Do Not Split, Hunger Ward and A Love Song for Latasha.
With files from Jillian Morgan