Odyssey is the largest film festival in conversation with Greater China and overseas Chinese communities in the UK. The 2023 edition will take place between May and June. Stay tuned and make sure you don’t miss out on any exciting updates this year! Odyssey celebrates ‘Global Sustainability’ as our main theme this year. Responding to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we will have 5 main strands this year for festival screening, with a new competition category “Sustainable Corporate Culture”.

How much “carbon dioxide” is produced while making a film?

Compared to manufacturing, it may not occur to many people that the film and television industry has always been a very high CO2 emitting industry. In 2006, a UCLA report revealed that the film and television industry was the second largest polluter in Los Angeles after oil extraction, with almost all of the film and television industry chain producing large amounts of CO2. In order to attract more viewers, film crews often spend a lot of money on creating glamorous sets and flying around the country to shoot them, while on-set and post-production use huge amounts of electricity, all of which generate a lot of CO2. Not to mention all the waste that is generated during the months and years of film production. A recent study by the BFI 2020 also found that each tentpole movie with a budget of over $70 million produces 2,840 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 3,709 acres of forest in a year.

For example, “Batman: The Dark Knight” consumed $500,000 worth of gasoline and $1 million worth of props, including a huge amount of CO2 to achieve the classic Joker blowing up a hospital, and each of Marvel’s films has a cast and crew of several thousand people, all of whom produce a considerable amount of carbon emissions during filming on location around the world. In 2021, according to the Royal Television Society, every hour of production will generate 9.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of two households in a year.

What is a “carbon neutral” film?

With the emphasis on environmental protection and sustainability, the film industry certainly can no longer afford to be so laissez-faire and continue to produce large amounts of CO2 in this way. With the increasing international awareness of sustainability issues in recent years, not only are more and more films being made with an environmental focus, but many production teams are also looking for new ways to reduce or offset the emissions from the filming process, and that’s what we’re talking about today.

Hollywood’s attempts at carbon neutrality started early, with the making of “carbon neutral films” as early as 2004. The famous disaster film “The Day After Tomorrow” is not only about the greenhouse effect, but also about the chain reaction of sudden climate change that leads to an irreversible disaster. In keeping with the film’s ecological theme, the creative team invested $200,000 in tree planting and renewable energy projects to offset the carbon dioxide generated during the film’s production, making it “Hollywood’s first carbon-neutral blockbuster”.

The UK’s ‘carbon neutral film’ has also grown significantly in recent years. Following the 2018 documentary Blue Planet II, which exposed the damage done to our oceans by plastic, 88% of viewers reportedly initiated behavioural change. In 2021, the BBC documentary was filmed outdoors using hydrogen generators to power the entire shoot, while the team also drastically reduced the use of single-use plastic in meals and drinking water.

China’s “carbon neutral movie” started late but is developing fast. 2020 saw China announce at the 75th UN General Assembly that it will peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and randomly develop a “double carbon strategy “In 2021, “carbon neutral” was selected as one of China’s top ten buzzwords of the year. In this context, China’s film and television industry has embraced the multi-element fusion of the “Double Carbon Strategy + Film and Television”, realising the practice of “green water and green mountains are the silver mountain of gold”. The film ” Ping Pong: The Triumph will be China’s first “carbon neutral film”, with the film’s producers purchasing agricultural carbon sinks to offset over 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions generated during the film’s filming, making it the first film in China to use agricultural carbon sinks to achieve carbon neutrality.

What can we do about “carbon neutral films”?

The film industry, as the ‘spotlight industry’ that attracts so much public attention, has a role to play in the age of carbon neutrality. Nowadays, countries are experimenting with various carbon neutral initiatives in the film production process. As young filmmakers, it is all the more important to produce carbon neutral films in this context. 

Therefore, we advocate that

  1. Production teams and studios replace diesel generators with hydrogen or solar generators for renewable energy
  2. Reduce the use of disposable plastic products, do not provide bottled water and encourage crew members to use their own cups.
  3. Reduce the frequency of printing and use electronic versions of scripts and announcement sheets
  4. Reduce the use of caravans, which not only reduces carbon emissions but also saves costs
  5. Show the human impact on nature in films and TV programmes to promote the idea of sustainable development


What do we want to achieve? 

UCFC’s annual UK-based film festival, Odyssey, is now the UK’s largest film festival in conversation with Greater China and the overseas Chinese communities. This year’s Odyssey is the first international film festival in Europe dedicated to the theme of ‘Global Sustainability’ and relevant to China. The festival will open in London at the end of May and last for a month. It includes five screening sections: ‘Equality’, ‘Urban Development’, ‘Environment’, ‘Biodiversity’, ‘Journeys’ and one competition section: ‘Sustainable Corporate Culture’.

The ‘Green Melody’ project, one of the initiatives under this year’s festival, will be a pilot for the Odyssey 2023’s campaign. This project aims to stimulate the exchange of cultural technologies and global sustainability values among emerging filmmakers from both countries, and to use film as a visual vehicle to orchestrate regional and global sustainable development debates

About Odyssey 2023

60+ films, 10 discussion panels and exclusive Q&As – An annual film festival in the UK in conversation with Greater China and overseas Chinese communities.

Presented by UK-China Film Collab
Festival Date: May – June 2023
Format: Offline In Person and Online via Shift 72
Festival Website: odysseychinesecinema.uk
Instagram & Twitter: @odysseyccs

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