Odyssey: a Chinese cinema season is an annual film festival presented by UK-China Film Collab. The 2023 edition will take place between May and June in the UK.

Under the theme of ‘Global Sustainability’, Odyssey 2023 will include 5 main strands in the programme, inspired by and responding to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): ‘EQUALITY’, ‘JOURNEY’, ‘ENVIRONMENT’, ‘URBAN DEVELOPMENT’, and ‘BIODIVERSITY’. The only competition category this year is ‘SUSTAINABLE CORPORATE CULTURE’, a section aims to inspire visual storytelling about the business sector’s contribution to different sustainable goals.


Date: February 14-28
Screening Platform: odysseychinesecinema.uk 
Programme Curators: Riley, Bingjue, Jason, Amber and Gia

Over the next few months leading to the official opening of Odyssey 2023, we will host a series of online and offline pre-festival events. In this first programme, we will present an overview of the works by a Chinese up-rising experimental and animation filmmaker – Hong Ning. We have selected three short films by the director and hope to explore the connection between various genres of filmmaking and ‘global sustainability’.

In recent years, there has been an outbreak of Chinese animated films internationally. Liu Jian’s HAVE A NICE DAY was shortlisted in the Official Competition at the Berlinale in 2017. This year, he is again shortlisted at the same festival with his new work, ART COLLEGE 1994. The film tells a story of an anecdote that takes place in the early 1990s at the Southern Academy of Arts. In those romantic and yet cruel years of youth, a group of young people are wandering at the crossroads in the wave of the country’s reform. Liu Jian looks at what happened in the past and the impact and inspiration of the times, focusing on a single individual student. 

In our pre-festival programme, Hong Ning’s animation works also share the same humanistic concern for the societal changes around us.


Hong Ning was born in 1996 in Shandong. He graduated from Jilin Animation Institute with a B.F.A. in Animation studies in 2018. Focusing on experimental film and a member of Building 23. His work was shortlisted in the 45th Annecy International Animation Film Festival, WTF2021 – Midnight Special.


We would like to present three films by the young director:




These three short experimental films respond to the theme of our festival this year – Global Sustainability. Hong Ning conveys the debate about Equality, Journey, Environment, Urban Development and Biodiversity with his images in a unique way.


Co-directed with Zhao Xiaofeng

Related Strands: Equality, Journey, and Urban Development

THE NEW WORLD is the first musical collaboration with Xiaofeng Zhao, Hong Ning made a collage of short Internet videos using frame-by-frame keying and actual footages. In 2020, most residents on the planet were forced to live indoors for days and months due to the epidemic. In this isolation, people created different ways of self-entertainment and did limited exercise at home. As a result, a large number of ordinary people emerged on the Internet and started to show interesting fragments of their indoor lives in their own way. 

This film focuses on the daily life during the quarantine that we have been through in previous years, when everyone was trapped in one single space and lost a certain boundary. Although the pandemic brought suffering and death, it also enabled people to be closer together, bridging the gap caused by inequality and filling them with a sense of mission and hope to tackle these problems.








Related Strands: Environment, and Urban Development

The environment in fact relates to not only the natural environment but also the social environment, including the changes in the city, the development of the internet and the transformation of people’s thoughts. Hong Ning seeks to get a glimpse of the relationship between human beings and the development of media through photographs, from black and white photos to big head posters to special effects avatars and meta-universe

Hong Ning collects photos from different periods and takes selfies with them, creating a contrast between styles in diverse times within the same image. The preservation of daily photos has transformed from traditional films and photo stickers to saving photos on mobile devices in the contemporary era. Aesthetically, the ways to take casual photographs are varied with changes in the methods photos are kept. In the past, we relied on photos to record the actual attributes of things, and during the rise of photo stickers, the collocations of two-dimensional decorative patterns in single-frame images were stressed. Nowadays, using apps like Snapchat and TikTok to change the image of the person being photographed in the lens has become extremely popular. Taking pictures is not only for recording but also has undergone greater changes aesthetically with the alteration in photo-retention methods. Through this work, Hong Ning attempts to explore the expressions of the same self at different time stages on personal and trendy aesthetic tastes, and further questions about the development of self-image in future casual photographs.






Related Strand: Environment

The roads are dusty and chaotic, with only the sanitation workers who are still working there. Hong Ning develops a metaphorical exploration of natural ecology around the comparison of embrace and destruction. The glimpse at the end of the film, where the spring rain takes away the noise in the town, is a sort of reflection of the development of the current industrialisation process. It is an expression of the current environment and also an expectation of sustainable development.

The film was recorded in Changchun, a city hit by a sandstorm on May 6, 2017, and its average PM10 concentration was over 2,000 µ g/m³. The dust and sand were greeted by the strong wind, and the streets were sparse with almost no pedestrians or vehicles except for the roadside sanitation worker who continued to work as usual. The filmmaker travelled through this mirage-like submerged, dark yellow corner of the city. He continues the use of masking as his previous works do, guiding the viewer’s attention through elliptical expressions. In the city under the natural disaster, the shouting pictures are moving in and out.



We continue to call for submissions for our festival screening programme in relation to the 5 strands below:


In response to the goal of  ‘No poverty’, ‘Quality Education’, ‘Gender Equality’ and ‘Reduced Inequalities’, this strand is looking for films discussing the issues of equality across different social groups.


We wish to see films as an action with a mission, which tackles or discovers a new scope of a sustainable future. This strand aims to demonstrate the goals of ‘Zero hunger’, ‘Climate Action’, ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ and ‘Partnerships for Goals’.

Films which highlight the issues of our environment or propose solutions to existing issues will be selected for this strand, in response to the goals of ‘Good Health and Well-being’, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ and ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’.


Films as social agents that witness and raise questions around urban development will be considered for this strand. ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, ‘Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure’, ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, and ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ are the goals that will be the criteria for our selection.


We care about all beings on Planet Earth. Biodiversity is a strand that explores the ‘Life Below Water’ and ‘Life on Land’.


New Extended Deadline: 28 February 2023