Trailer Watch: Trailblazer Valerie Taylor Welcomes Us into the Underwater World in “Playing with Sharks”

“Every dive has the potential to be a great adventure. I would slide into the water into another world,” says Valerie Taylor in a new trailer for “Playing with Sharks.” From Emmy-nominated director Sally Aitken, the documentary pays tribute to Taylor, a pioneer in underwater filmmaking and shark research.

A former champion spearfisher, Taylor credits a personal epiphany with her decision to dedicate her life to changing humans’ misconceptions about sharks. “From now on, I’m shooting them with a camera,” she recalls thinking.

“Very little was known about sharks in those days,” Taylor explains. You could watch the animals from the boat but not below the surface. She, along with her husband, Ron, filmed the first images in the world of Great White sharks swimming underwater. “I decided to prove that sharks are not out to get us,” she emphasizes.

“From turning herself into shark bait to prove sharks are not out to get us, to taking on the highest levels of government to fight for their protection, Valerie remains one of the world’s most outspoken and passionate advocates for sharks. Incredibly, she is still free swimming with bull sharks at the age of 85,” Aitken told us ahead of the film’s world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January.

“I like to think of Valerie as an ‘accidental conservationist,’” the director explained, “and this movie is very much not your typical conservation film. Hopefully, the force of Valerie’s unique story and our techniques of intercutting the present with the archive compels and empowers people to consider the fragility of our oceans and the need to protect them.”

Aitken’s credits include doc feature “A Cinematic Life” and doc series “Streets of Your Town.”

“Playing with Sharks” launches on Disney+ July 23.

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