The extraordinary life story of pioneering scuba diver, Valerie Taylor, a fearless marine maverick whose passion for sharks knows no bounds – even when there should be. Officially selected for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Documentary Competition section, PLAYING WITH SHARKS is a feature documentary from director Sally Aitken and producer Bettina Dalton.
Valerie Taylor is a living legend and icon in the underwater world. A glamorous shark hunter in the 1950s, she 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; this powerful and visually sumptuous 90-minute feature documentary 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. Through her life’s arc, we go on a journey of new understandings, from fearing to respect and awe of these complex, often misunderstood creatures. Valerie Taylor is a marine maverick, a fearless diver, and pioneering conservationist who used herself as shark bait, and dared to befriend even the legendary great white sharks. This formidable woman forged her own adventure story in a male dominated world, and succeeded. Valerie’s passion to change the human perceptions of sharks transformed scientific knowledge and our understandings of these magnificent apex predators forever. This is her story.
Playing With Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story is a WildBear Entertainment production, developed and financed with the assistance of Screen NSW in association with Dogwoof and TDog Productions with principal production and development funding from Screen Australia.