The Oil Machine to premiere at Sheffield DocFest 2022

It has been announced that Sonja Henrici Creates' new documentary The Oil Machine (the feature length version of Black Black Oil), directed by Emma Davie (Becoming Animal, I Am Breathing) and produced by Sonja Henrici (Becoming Animal, Time Trial, Donkeyote, I Am Breathing) will have its World Premiere at Sheffield DocFest on June 25.

The Oil Machine explores our economic, historical and emotional entanglement with oil by looking at the conflicting imperatives around North Sea oil. This invisible machine at the core of our economy and society now is now up for question as activists and investors demand change. Is this the end of oil?   

The Oil Machine reveals the hidden infrastructure of oil from the offshore rigs and the buried pipelines to its flow through the stock markets of London. As the North Sea industry struggles to meet the need to cut carbon emissions, oil workers see their livelihoods under threat, and investors seek to protect their assets. Meanwhile a younger generation of climate activists are catalysed by the signs of impending chaos, and the very real threat of global sea level rises. The Oil Machine explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly can we do it?

An oil rig during an overcast wet-looking day. Still from The Oil Machine.Still from The Oil Machine. Courtesy of Sonja Henrici Creates. Credit: Equinor

By highlighting the complexities of how oil is embedded in our society - from high finance to cheap consumer goods – The Oil Machine brings together a wide range of voices from oil company executives, economists, young activists, pension fund managers and considers how this machine can be tamed, dismantled, or repurposed.

The film features a fascinating array of voices, including: Holly Gillibrand (dubbed “Scotland’s Greta”), Kevin Anderson (Professor of Energy & Climate Change, Manchester University), Emeka Emembolu (Senior VP of BP North Sea), Jake Molloy (Regional Organiser, RMT Union), James Marriott (co-author of Crude Britannia), Mikaela Loach (Edinburgh medical student), Sir David King (former UK Govt. Chief Scientific Advisor), Deirdre Michie (CEO of Oil & Gas UK), Steve Waygood (Chief Responsible Investor at Aviva Investors), Tessa Khan (climate lawyer from Uplift), Ann Pettifor (economist & author), and others.

A protest against oil outside a stone built office building. Protestors wearing masks and carrying colourful signs that read 'more green jobs, no new oil', 'stop CAMb' and 'UK Gov loves Fossil Fuel'. This is a still of campaigners from the film The Oil Machine.Still from The Oil Machine. Courtesy of Sonja Henrici Creates.

Director Emma Davie said: “This documentary was initiated by a sense of the urgency of addressing the issue of the oil in our own backyard. I feel that the huge “elephant in the room” in terms of the UK’s aspiration to be climate change leaders is North Sea Oil. There seemed to be a need to understand how interwoven and embedded oil is in so many fundamental aspects of our lives so we wanted to bring together disparate voices involved in the interlinking worlds of oil, finance, activism who would normally never dialogue together. We wanted to express an emotional as well as analytical look at where we are at with North Sea Oil. Global oil production was barely mentioned in the COP agreement but it is responsible for 60% of emissions. Sir David King points out that we only have 5 years to make big changes - how can we address the crucial question of oil in our own backyard?”

The Oil Machine is a Sonja Henrici Creates Production for BBC Scotland and supported by The National Lottery through Screen Scotland.

Sheffield DocFest Screenings:

  • Sat 25 June 15:30-17.27 + Conversation (Showroom – Bertha DocHouse Screen 3)
  • Mon 27 June 20:00-21.42 (Odeon – Screen 1)
  • Tues 28 June 10:15-11:57 (Showroom -Bertha DocHouse Screen 3)


About Sonja Henrici Creates

Sonja Henrici Creates is the new company by the eponymous producer, founded in 2021 for all her creative and production work. She works with new and established talents and collaborates and partners with diverse filmmakers and companies across the world. She develops thoughtful and gripping stories to make you see differently. Stories that ignite our imagination to live and love better and to transform our worlds. Previous films include: I Am Breathing, Becoming Animal (by Emma Davie), Donkeyote and Time Trial.

About Screen Scotland

Screen Scotland is the national body that drives development of all aspects of Scotland’s film and tv industry, through funding and strategic support. Screen Scotland is part of Creative Scotland and delivers these services and support with funding from Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Find out more at and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.