Valerie Taylor in water wearing a chain mail suit. (Ron and Valerie Taylor)




With legendary diver, conservationist and photographer

Valerie Taylor, live from Australia

Sag Harbor Cinema joins Hamptons Doc in celebrating Earth Day with a special screening of National Geographic Documentary Films’ Playing with Sharks, April 24th at 7pm, in SHC’s Theater 1, followed by a Zoom conversation with writer/director Sally Aitken, producer Bettina Dalton and Valerie Taylor.


One of the hottest films at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Playing with Sharks captures the life of a woman ahead of her time—a fearless diver, cinematographer and pioneering conservationist whose work would forever change our understanding of the ocean’s most magnificent apex predators.

Valerie Taylor in water wearing a chain mail suit. (Ron and Valerie Taylor)

“With its intrepid heroine, toothy co-stars and beautiful underwater cinematography, mostly rare and archival, Playing with Sharks is the perfect film to salute the wonders of wildlife. We are delighted by this new collaboration with Hamptons Doc”, says Sag Harbor Cinema’s artistic director Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan.

“Just watch Valerie Taylor’s underwater dance with sharks and you’ll learn the rewards of embracing nature. It’s an earth day celebration in film we are delighted to share on the Sag Harbor Cinema’s big new screen” says Jacqui Lofaro, Hamptons Doc Fest’s Executive Director.

As a young woman in Australia in the 1950s, Taylor bucked the status quo, becoming a champion spearfisher in a sport dominated by men. She soon traded in her spear for a camera, documenting the undersea world as never before. With husband Ron behind the lens and Valerie’s willingness to get up close and personal with creatures of the deep, the team quickly gained attention as world-class, pioneering underwater filmmakers. The first to film a great white underwater, their shark sequences ultimately became the inspiration for a new novel and soon-to-be blockbuster hit—Jaws—with Valerie and Ron brought on to shoot all the underwater live shark scenes. The rest is cinema history.

As Jaws’ smashing global success had the unforeseen consequence of solidifying sharks in the collective mindset as underwater monsters to be feared and hunted, Valerie would spend the rest of her life working to set the record straight, dispelling the fearsome misconceptions about the toothy predator and advocating for the protection and preservation of marine habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef.


For tickets go to

Valerie with ‘Bruce’ the mechanical Great White during the filming of JAWS.




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