Playing with Sharks, the feature documentary from director Sally Aitken and producer Bettina Dalton, has been selected to screen at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition section.
The WildBear Entertainment production is one of only 10 films from around the world to be chosen for this prestigious and highly competitive section.
Playing with Sharks is a powerful and visually sumptuous 90-minute feature documentary about Valerie Taylor, living legend and icon in the underwater world. A glamorous shark hunter in the 1950s, Valerie was a champion slayer with ruthless aim before a personal epiphany transformed her into a passionate marine conservationist – notably for the ocean’s scariest creature, the shark. Long before anyone else, Valerie dared to get close. This is her incredible true story, swimming against the tide of human misconception of sharks and putting herself on the front line for sharks for over 70 years.
Featuring a stranger than fiction script, the making of Jaws, a magnetic heroine, and that most charismatic and terrifying of screen creatures, sharks; the film draws on incredible re-mastered film footage captured over 50 years. Valerie’s astonishing bravery underwater will change the way we perceive sharks once and for all.
“To launch this film at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival is a dream come true,” said Sally Aitken. “Valerie’s daredevil exploits and her astounding rich underwater archive are a potent mix for any director. It is a privilege to sink my teeth into her pioneering story. That she is still diving and fighting for sharks at the age of 85 shows Valerie’s incredible passion and that her thirst for adventure remains undiminished. Her life-affirming journey as an unlikely conservationist proves to all of us just what is possible with our interconnectedness to the natural world, if we allow it.”
“We are absolutely thrilled and honoured to have this film accepted to Sundance and grateful to all those who recognised the power of Valerie’s story and the importance of honouring her achievements so all can bear witness to the fragility of our oceans and feel empowered to protect them as Valerie has,” said roducer Bettina Dalton.
“When my producer told me my story was accepted by Sundance it was the most exciting news in a long and difficult year,” said Valerie Taylor. It took many talented people to produce this piece of ocean history but without the wonderful footage shot by my late husband Ron this film could never have been made. He would be so very proud.”
Playing with Sharks will be released in Australian via Madman Entertainment.