“My Octopus Teacher” follows producer-narrator Craig Foster as he free-dives in a cold underwater kelp forest in South Africa and develops a relationship with a wild common octopus and documents a year in the unusual (and beautiful) friendship. The hit nature documentary, Netflix’s first original doc from South Africa, also marked Ehrlich’s directorial debut.
The film debuted to critical acclaim in September 2020, and has since won more than 20 international awards, including the prestigious Wildscreen Golden Panda, Jackson Hole’s Grand Teton, the IDA’s Pare Lorentz and a PGA Award.
Ehrlich is nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature alongside co-director James Reed and Foster. Ehrlich and Reed are also nominated for a DGA Award for outstanding directorial achievement in documentaries. Ehrlich is also nominated for an ACE Eddie Award for best edited documentary feature with Dan Schwalm.
In his review of the film for Variety, Guy Lodge said the “engaging, massively crowdpleasing Netflix documentary goes out of its way to humanize these amorphous aliens of the sea: both through standard anthropomorphic techniques familiar from the nature-doc playbook of Attenborough and Disney alike, and through the empathetic presence of its producer-narrator.”
In addition to directing the film, for the last five years, Ehrlich has been a part of the Sea Change Project, exploring the underwater forests of Cape Town and editing the photographic book “Sea Change: Primal Joy and the Art of Underwater Tracking.”
The filmmaker previously worked as an environmental journalist, specializing in the field of marine science and conservation. Ehrlich has worked with some of the world’s top marine researchers and underwater photographers and has been an avid freediver for more than a decade.