KMy Octopus Teacher is a 2020 Netflix Original documentary film directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, which documents a year spent by filmmaker Craig Foster forging a relationship with a wild common octopus in a South African kelp forest. At the 93rd Academy Awards, it won the award for Best Documentary Feature.
The film shows how, in 2010, Foster began free-diving in a cold underwater kelp forest at a remote location in False Bay, near Cape Town, South Africa. The location was near Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula, which is exposed to the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean.
He started to document his experiences and, in time, met a curious young octopus that captured his attention. He decided to keep visiting her, tracking her movements every day for a year to win the animal’s trust. They form a bond where she plays with Foster and allows him into her world to see how she sleeps, lives, and eats. In the film, Foster describes the impact of his relationship with the octopus on his life.
The film shows Foster's growing intimate relationship with the octopus as he follows her around for nearly a year. She has to defend herself against pyjama sharks. In one attack, the octopus loses an arm, and retreats to her den to recover, slowly regenerating the arm over three months. In a later shark attack, she shows an incredibly improved creativity to survive, including sticking on the shark's back. Later, after mating with a male octopus and producing a large number of eggs, she dies naturally while tending to her eggs and a shark takes her body away.
Foster describes the effect of this mentorship-like relationship the octopus provided him, teaching him a lesson on the fragility of life and humanity's connection with nature. This transfers to Foster creating a deeper bond with his son as his son develops as a diver and marine life student.