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Foster, a South African filmmaker, took 10 years to make the footage used in My Octopus Teacher. Wikimedia commons

The heart-warming story of the human-octopus friendship My Octopus Teacher documentary made it to the hearts of the Oscar Jury as it won the Best Documentary at the 93rd Academy Awards at Los Angeles.

The documentary directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed brings on screen the true story of friendship between the filmmaker and diver Craig Foster and an octopus when he decides to explore an underwater kelp forest near Cape Town, South Africa. The film brings to light the unusually strong bond the two form.


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The documentary had already indicated that it is a strong contender for the Oscar this year as it had won several festivals and critics’ awards, besides winning the Bafta and Producers Guild awards for Best Documentary. In the Academy Awards, the film of course faced tough competition from a line-up that included criminal justice system testimony Time, disability documentary Crip Camp, and corruption investigation Collective. What made My Octopus Teacher charm the viewers, critics, and the jury was the rare story of bonding between a human being and a creature in the wild.

The documentary is a 2020 Netflix Original film.

The genesis

Foster, a South African filmmaker, took 10 years to make the footage used in My Octopus Teacher. According to Reuters, it began as a personal video project by Foster to rekindle his connection with nature by observing an inquisitive female mollusk while free-diving near Cape Town.

In the film, one gets to see 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. Located near Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula, it is exposed to the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean.

The unusual bonding

Foster started to document his experiences and, in course of time, he chanced upon a curious young octopus that got his complete attention. Deciding to continue to visit her den and tracking her daily movements for a year, he was keen to win her trust. In course of time, the two formed a bond where she plays with Foster and allows him into her world to see how she sleeps, lives, and eats. Foster in the film goes on to describe the impact on the life of his relationship with the octopus.

The documentary captures beautifully Foster’s growing intimate relationship with the octopus as he follows her around for nearly a year. The audience gets to see the octopus defending herself against pajama sharks. She loses an arm in one such attack and retreats to her den to recover, regenerating the arm slowly over a period of three months.


According to Foster his relationship with the octopus taught him about life’s fragility and our connection with nature and even helped him become a better father. Pixabay

In another attack incident, she shows remarkable improvisation as she displays her creativity to survive, including sticking on the shark’s back. After mating with a bigger octopus and producing a large number of eggs, she dies naturally while tending for her eggs and a shark takes her body away.

Foster describes the effect of this mentorship that the octopus provided him with as teaching him a lesson on the fragility of life and humanity’s connection with nature. This translated to Foster creating a deeper bond with his son as his son develops as a diver and marine life student.

Takeaways

According to Foster his relationship with the octopus taught him about life’s fragility and our connection with nature and even helped him become a better father. As per Reuters, Foster said: “The really strange thing is that, as you get closer to them, you realize that we’re very similar in a lot of ways. I had to have a radical change in my life. And the only way I knew how to do it was to be in this ocean with her.”

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Grieving over the loss of his dear friend, Foster, showed his 3,000 hours of footage to the fellow diver and director Pippa Ehrlich who shot additional material of the landscape beneath the cold waters of False Bay near Foster’s home. There were moments where I was editing and I got emotional in certain scenes. You know, when she loses her leg. The final scene from playing with the fish to her death. I think I cried while I was cutting that,” remarked Ehrlich who co-directed the documentary with James Reed.

Highlighting the impact of the film, Ehrlich reveals: “To receive thousands and thousands of emails from people saying that they’ve been touched … saying that they’ll never eat octopus again.” .’The way that it’s been received has been incredibly empowering. And yeah, it makes you believe in yourself,’ she adds. (IANS/JC)


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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences


Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)


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