Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: The Oil Machine

In 1969, after years of exploration, oil was discovered in the North Sea. The 1970s saw the discovery of the two biggest fields on the UK continental shelf. Clair, which is west of Shetland and Forties, which is east of Aberdeen.  This unearthing has driven the UK economy and financial markets in the subsequent decades, not to mention British manufacturing. Almost half of the oil and natural gas reserves in the region have already been exhausted.

While the climate crisis dictates that we concentrate our future energy needs on renewables, new oil fields are still being licenced. The war in Ukraine has placed extra pressure on the UK’s commitments made in the Paris accords. We rely on oil for far more things than you’d expect. While the big energy companies want a gradual change, it’s clear this needs to be rapidly speeded up. The Oil Machine tackles the subject from both sides.

The Oil Machine speaks to a number of industry experts, activists, economists and scientists as it tackles the myriad difficulties of transitioning to renewable energy. Whilst it’s highly informative and whizzes through at a nice pace, there’s much more to Emma Davie’s (Becoming Animal) film. Her approach is tinged with the experimental, creating both a riveting watch and a visually arresting experience. One layered with poetic feeling.  

The Oil Machine screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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