Utopia, a new, epic film on Australia by John Pilger, had its Australian premiere in Redfern, Sydney on 17 January 2014.
For coverage of the Australian premiere: please click here
The film has been named among the top five films of 2013.
The Premiere of Utopia was held at the London National Film Theatre (BFI South Bank) on Thursday 3 October 2013. A large crowd attended the screening and many signed a message calling for Treaties to be negotiated between Aboriginal Nations and the Australian Government.
When John Pilger returns to Australia's outback for his new feature documentary "Utopia" he finds that little has changed since his making "The Secret Country" in 1985. In his new film Utopia, John says that until white Australia negotiates a genuine Treaty with Indigenous Australia, it can never claim its own nationhood.
John Pilger explains the background to his new film 'Utopia' and describes how little has changed since his first film of 1985 about Aboriginal Peoples in Australia, 'The Secret Country'.
"When I made my first film about Indigenous Australia in 1985, 'The Secret Country', I never thought that in 2013 I'd be making another film... and saying, in effect, so little had changed. Indeed, when we were making some of 'Utopia' we actually confused some of the old footage with the new - same shacks, same children with distended bellies and the same sense of a denial of justice..."
To watch his message: please click here
This is Utopia, an epic production by the Emmy and Bafta winning film-maker and journalist John Pilger. Utopia is a vast region in northern Australia and home to the oldest human presence on earth. "This film is a journey into that secret country," says Pilger in Utopia. "It will describe not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance - from one utopia to another"
Utopia is John Pilger's new feature documentary, made for the cinema and ITV. Drawing on his long association with the first people of Australia, his homeland, Utopia is both an epic portrayal of the oldest continuous human culture and an investigation into a suppressed colonial past and rapacious present.
One of the world's best kept secrets is revealed against a background of the greatest boom in mineral wealth. Has the 'lucky country' inherited South African apartheid? ...
Utopia - A film by John Pilger
Utopia tells a universal story of power and resistance in the media age driven by old imperatives presented as liberalism.
For the facebook page: please click here
The Conversation - Review: Pilger’s Utopia shows us Aboriginal Australia in 2014 - 17 January 2014
Welcome to Aboriginal Australia in the 21st Century – John Pilger’s Utopia.
It was more than two decades ago when I saw John Pilger’s 1986 documentary The Secret Country for the first time. I was a 17-year-old Aboriginal male suffering the indignity of public housing Australia. My identity came with a sense of collective oppression that turned my indignity into both resistance and motivation....
The biggest difference between Pilger’s two films is that The Secret Country was about Australia’s dark untold past whereas Utopia is about the present. The here and now is revealed to be inhuman, disgraceful and embarrassing.
It’s a point made in one of the interviews in the film with the Secretary General of Amnesty International. Salil Shetty asks why one of the richest countries in the world can’t solve the problem of Indigenous poverty. If it’s not about resources, the problem must lie “somewhere else”. ...
It’s that “somewhere else” that sparked my interest in this film. ...
The London Film Review
... John Pilger takes us on a journey that will sadden, anger and frustrate you; a journey that addresses one of the biggest violations of human rights today. ....
While it isn’t always made obvious throughout the film, many of the events and case studies discussed in Utopia are things that have happened over the last few years, making this a very real and pressing problem. This isn’t a documentary showcasing the horrific conditions of the aboriginal people a long time ago, this is a documentary aiming to alert us all of a very modern, very current apartheid-like situation – one that is taking place in one of the richest and most developed countries of the 21st century. ...
Sydney Morning Herald
John Pilger's damning new film about indigenous Australia
... Pilger, 74, sees a treaty and genuine land rights as the key to improving the position of the original owners of Australia.
Anything less, including the current talk of constitutional recognition, is simply a "distraction", he says....
There's not a lot that is genuinely new in this film but it provides a thorough overview, from the Gurindji strike through to the NT intervention and Kevin Rudd's apology which Pilger describes as "largely a media event".
Pilger reminds the viewer that Bob Hawke in the 1980s walked away from genuine land rights in the face of a racist scare campaign from the mining industry.
He draws parallels with Julia Gillard's decision to fold on Labor's mining tax in 2010.
"The revenue lost is estimated at $60 billion," the director says in the film. "Enough to fund land rights and to end Aboriginal poverty."
Utopia also documents a new stolen generation with the ongoing removal of Aboriginal babies from their mothers. "This was one of the film's major investigations," Pilger tells AAP. "The theft is now higher than at any time in the last century." ....
Related: ISJA's overview in the Ratbag - Zine #3, page 5
...the reply to the question from john of why little of a positive nature has been done in the nt over some 50 years clearly shows the utter contempt most, if not all, politicians have to addressing the plight of our people. in the nt especially...
...we must never forget that what one government can give can be more easily taken away by another. that is why we need the racial discrimination act (to be watered down soon by the abbott government) and a bill of rights to better protect our rights in these areas. additions to the australian/british constitution of our sovereign rights would also help against such government theft.
In 1985, Australian journalist John Pilger made The Secret Country, a film about his homeland's mistreatment of its indigenous people in which he suggested Australia was effectively running an apartheid regime. Nearly 30 years later, Pilger has made Utopia (ITV), a film that covers much the same ground, though with understandably less subtlety and rather more anger, as nothing much has changed. Indeed, as white Australia has emerged as one of the richest nations on the planet thanks to its mineral resources, the indigenous people are worse off than many of those living in developing countries. The incidence of trachoma among Indigenous Australians is among the highest in the world ...
Some Sydney screenings and flyers of other screenings: please click here
AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE OF JOHN PILGER'S UTOPIA
Free open-air screening at the Block in Redfern
Friday January 17, 2014 - 7pm
Corner Eveleigh & Caroline Streets Redfern
Introduced by film-maker John Pilger
With special guests from the film:
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks OAM (Utopia community),
Amy McQuire (editor of Tracker magazine)
Robert and Selina Eggington (Dumbartung)
Performances from Sean Choolburra and Glen Skuthorpe
MC Bronwyn Penrith (Human Rights advocate)
For the flyer: please click here
Screening supported by:
City of Sydney Council, Redfern Community Centre, Aboriginal Housing Company, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning Research (UTS), Tracker magazine, Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney
How to support the Aboriginal people in their struggle for justice
The public response to the broadcast of Utopia on the ITV Network has been widespread across the UK. Many people have asked what they can do to support Aboriginal people in their struggle for justice.
I recommend that people write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, calling on him to start, without delay, negotiations for a fully constituted Treaty between the Commonwealth of Australia and all the First Nations of Australia. This would included long overdue restitution and universal land rights.
For more: please click here or here
John Pilger's new film Utopia is one of the most important films to be screened in Australia today. It shows the real lives the First Nations Peoples are forced to live because of the Governments' continued Genocide policies of Racism and Aparteid. It is a must see film for all ages , but a hard film to digest for many. Its impact will be very strong and hopefully felt by the Politicians in Australia, who have agreed to hide the treatment of the First Nations People today and the last 200 and more years since the White Invasion.
Deni Langman, 7 January 2014
There is asbestos in Aboriginal homes, and when somebody gets a fibre of asbestos in their lungs and develops mesothelioma, [the government] doesn't care. When the kids have chronic infections and end up adding to these incredible statistics of indigenous people dying of renal disease, and vulnerable to world record rates of rheumatic heart disease, nothing is done. I ask myself: why not? Malnutrition is common. I wanted to give a patient an anti-inflammatory for an infection that would have been preventable if living conditions were better, but I couldn't treat her because she didn't have enough food to eat and couldn't ingest the tablets. I feel sometimes as if I'm dealing with similar conditions as the English working class at the beginning of the industrial revolution
Dr. Janelle Trees, GP, Central Australia
... many appear to think Australia is a nation to be proud of. They show this in a scene where Pilger takes a camera down to Circular Quay to speak to the flag-shrouded masses there celebrating Australia Day.
As Pilger works his way through the jingoistic hoards asking people whether they thought Aboriginal people had a right to be offended regarding the meaning of Australia Day, he is greeted by everything from the perennially boring “we’re ALL Australians” to hearing some
of the most enduring stereotypes of the “uncivilised Aborigine”, to being told that he’s “full of s**t”. Certainly some realities of the country’s National Day rain on the parade of the festival-goers and they simply don’t wish to know about it.
Celeste Liddle, Arrernte Australian woman living in Melbourne. Tracker - 7 Jan 14
As Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation says in my film, the mining companies exploit land they don’t own and extract riches that are not theirs. Indigenous Australians have a right to share in the so-called resources boom, or to veto the destruction and desecration of land. At present, a few Aboriginal land corporations have benefited, but most communities remain impoverished. Native Title – hailed as an advance by white Australia – has allowed the mining companies to dig up Indigenous land almost as they please, and without fearing an Indigenous veto...
[question] You have said documentaries can “reclaim shared historical and political memories, and present their hidden truths.” Is your intention with Utopia to achieve this for Indigenous Australians?
Yes, that’s one aim of Utopia. Another is to demonstrate to majority Australia that there is no longer an ‘out’ on this issue. The excuses have dried up. Until Australians restores true nationhood to the Aboriginal people, they can never claim their own.
A lot of people have studied us and written up a lot reports about us. Some Aboriginal people have taken back their pride and dignity and some have been welcomed into white society as long as they never rocked the boat. I don’t suppose we can be shot in broad daylight now – but that still goes on. There are other ways to attack us now – destroying us from inside. Ask any Aboriginal person in any country town in Australia; they’ll tell you how it’s done, it’s always shocking.”
I quickly realised I had learned more about the original people of Australia in my small school in the Scottish Highlands than these Australians had been taught, or wanted to find out. They knew next to nothing. Amazing.
Scottish Film Director
Indigenous people have a right to determine their culture and this should not be usurped, used and translated by non-Indigenous people unless invited. Reporting their situation is different and consultation is vital. Utopia is the sum of many Indigenous views, consultations, permissions, approvals and respect
It’s everything we knew was happening, but we didn’t know how to put it out there. We are more determined than ever to fight
It's so degrading
Noongar elder Noel Nannup about Indigenous disadvantage in Australia
"They don't have any idea what happened in here," Nannup tells Pilger of the hotel's paying guests.
"No one tells them. No one lets them know."
Noel is standing in a $240-a-night hotel room on Rottnest Island which used to be divided into three prison cells in which more than 50 Indigenous people died
I was shocked all over again,...
It's not that I expected a great deal of change. But to fly from a rich metropolis like Sydney, in what is now one of the richest countries on the planet, and drive into impoverished communities deprived of the basic services that the majority of Australians take for granted, is shocking.
John Pilger upon his return to outback Australia
One Australian distributor refused to take the film because he said it was 'too dark' and 'it might upset people with its myth-busting'...
Unlike the US, Canada and New Zealand, no treaty was ever negotiated between the lawful owners of Australia and those who took their land," he says. "International law is clear - there has to be a treaty. If the Australian political establishment believes it can continue to look the other way and deny the first Australians their basic rights they are seriously mistaken ...
I don't know why we don't embrace that history...Maybe we're not overly proud of that history.
White tour guide at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in response to John Pilger's question as to why the frontier wars aren't commemorated in Canberra
I guess Australia isn't ready to confront some parts of its history
White tour guide at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra
ABC - Dystopian Utopia - 20 January 2014
Acclaimed journalist John Pilger has released his latest documentary about Indigenous disadvantage in Australia. ...
John Pilger's Utopia: meet Felicity and Basil Hayes of Whitegate town camp - video
Felicity and Basil Hayes, the traditional owners and residents of Whitegate town camp in the Northern Territory, have waged a long struggle for housing and basic services. ...
Future is bleak for Whitegate Camp
The future of an Indigenous camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs is now in doubt after the two remaining residents were told they would have to vacate the land. ...
John Pilger's Utopia: Meet Patricia Morton-Thomas - video
Patricia Morton-Thomas is a writer, actor and film maker. She is a spokesperson for the family of the late Kwementyaye Briscoe, who died in police custody in Alice Springs in 2012...
Australian Premiere at the Block in Redfern - 17 January 2014
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (Utopia Elder) speeks at the Australian premiere of John Pilger's new documentary "UTOPIA" at the Block in Redfern on Friday, 17 Jan 2014.
John Pilger introduces his new documentary "UTOPIA" at the Australian premiere at the Block in Redfern on Friday, 17 Jan 2014.
Our Generation - Land, Culture, Freedom. (2010, 73 mins)
Curator's clip description by Romaine Moreton
Talking head newscast discussing the 'Aboriginal problem'. In this instance, Lang Hancock offers sterilisation as a solution to 'the problem'.
Teen tasering highlights weapon-use concerns
Background to 'Utopia', John Pilger's documentary film about Aboriginal people in Australia
John Pilger: Utopia is one of the most urgent films I have made: The Guardian
12 January 2014
How to support the Aboriginal people in their struggle for justice: JohnPilger.com
26 December 2013
Interview - John Pilger exposes Australia's shocking secret in Utopia: Australian Times
24 November 2013
WGAR News: In the lucky country of Australia apartheid is alive and kicking: John Pilger, The Guardian
8 November 2013
WGAR News: Premiere of John Pilger's documentary film 'Utopia' held at London National Film Theatre
11 October 2013
WGAR News: Tiga Bayles interview with John Pilger: First Nations Peoples and the new Film 'Utopia'
5 May 2013
WGAR News: Australia's boom is anything but for its Aboriginal people: John Pilger, The Guardian
1 May 2013
ABC Radio National - John Pilger discusses new film 'Utopia' - 17 January 2014
The award-winning author and filmmaker John Pilger has turned the spotlight back on his homeland of Australia for his latest film 'Utopia'. ...
Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane - Let's Talk - John Pilger & Melissa Lucashenko - 3 May 2013
"John Pilger, Australian Journalist and Film maker based in UK speaking about his life long support for First Nations Peoples and his new Film 'Utopia'
Melissa Lucashenko, an acclaimed writer, widely published novelist, essayist and short story writer."
Listen to this interview on-line:
The Guardian Audio Edition - John Pilger on the plight of Aboriginal Australians - 30 April 2013
"Audio versions of a selection of articles from the Guardian newspaper and website.
The story of the first Australians is still poverty and humiliation, while their land yields the world's biggest resources boom. ... By John Pilger"
New John Pilger film, Utopia, to be broadcast on ITV and released worldwide
29 April 2013
A new John Pilger film on Australia, Utopia, commissioned by ITV and backed by the UK company, Network Distributing, and produced by Dartmouth Films, will be delivered in the summer in Britain, and broadcast worldwide near the end of the year and early 2014. In an article for the Guardian, John Pilger gives a taste of the latest film about Australia, his homeland - the first was The Secret Country, broadcast in 1985.
Catalogue Number : 7954042 - Classification Exempt
Number of Discs 2 - Picture 1.78:1 / Colour
Sound Stereo / English - Subtitles None
Region 0 / PAL - Time 383 mins approx
 More than four hours of additional interviews recorded during the filming of Utopia
 Booklet by Pilger biographer Anthony Hayward
 Original theatrical trailer
Download on iTunes (website includes Plot summary)
NIT - Utopia shows Scullion's truancy army is no substitute for a Treaty - 29 January 2014
... There are many hundreds of Utopias throughout Australia...
What Mr Pilger has brought to the screen for the world to see is nothing new to most Indigenous Australians. They have been forced to live with it for most of their lives. But the documentary, Utopia was not primarily created to capture the attention of Indigenous Australians. Mr Pilger's objective is to shame Australia to the rest of the world for the way it treats this country's first inhabitants and he has done so in spades. ...
The Guardian - Q&A with Amelia Kunoth-Monks: on the devastation brought upon First Nations by government policies - 17 January 2014
... My name is Amelia. I come from a place called Utopia. It's about 250kms north-east of Alice Springs. It's a remote community where our culture has never died, and I am so privileged to call it home. ...
I'm down in Sydney for the launch of the film. It's about the devastation of what government is inflicting on First Nations. It shows what has happened to our people since we were invaded 225 year ago. It shows the contrast of two cultures barely working together, or understanding each other. It shows the heartache of what the elders are going through, how the younger generation kills itself and is being killed within a circle that can't seemingly be broken.
The film had a massive effect on me. ...
The Guardian - John Pilger: Utopia is one of the most urgent films I have made - 8 January 2014
Utopia is long overdue. The so-called “intervention” in 2007 was one of the most devastating setbacks suffered by Aboriginal people. Do non-indigenous Australians understand the pain and trauma this cynical action by the Howard government caused? I doubt it. The national smearing and humiliation, the lies and consequent tragedies – the increase in suicides, for example – rank with the worst official behaviour towards the first people of Australia.
Utopia is one of the most urgent films I have made. That Australian governments believe they can manipulate and discriminate against Aboriginal communities in a manner that has been described in the UN as “permissively racist” is astonishing in the 21century. How ironic that as Nelson Mandela was buried and venerated, another form of the system he fought against was alive and well in Australia.
Tracker - Utopia: An Aboriginal perspective - 7 January 2014
Award winning investigative journalist John Pilger’s new film Utopia will be a powerful weapon to raise awareness about Aboriginal Australia, according to Arrente writer Celeste Liddle...
Utopia, which was released in the UK in November, has consistently received rave reviews...
It is frequently described as a “must see”, its content as bleak, confronting and disturbing and its core arguments as compelling and shameful.
In short, since its release, it has shaken viewers in the UK and awoken them to some unspoken truths in this country....
It’s nothing new that other countries are expressing shock and outrage over this film, whilst Australia tries to ignore its content. For further information, check out the mounting pile of political denials following reports from visiting UN officials.
It’s a crying shame, because Australia NEEDS to see this. They need to sit down and absorb the realities of the “Aboriginal situation” and they need to start responding if they actually do believe in the “fair go for all” they’re so fond of espousing as a core value of this country. ...
When the film investigates the installation of the Northern Territory Intervention, the injustice highlighted goes up another notch.
The ABC Lateline report that led to the Howard government declaring a “state of emergency” in the NT was exposed by journalist Chris Graham (formerly Managing Editor of Tracker and a contributor) as having fabricated stories and falsified documents; using old and inaccurate footage in some cases to construct their untruths.
The findings from police departments,the Central Australian Specialists, the Australian Crime Commission and other experts that there was little to no evidence to support the claims made by the Lateline programme and the then government has not caused public outcry. Six years after the Intervention was instituted and the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) suspended to bring the policy in, the Intervention continues, albeit in a modified form.
There are two huge points Pilger investigates through this section of the film.
One is that the greater Australian public has been more than happy to accept the intervention because they readily accept horrible and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal people as fact.
Another is that when it comes to a country generating billions of dollars worth of income through the mining of its mineral resources, the demonisation of Indigenous Australia is a small price to pay. ...
Australian Times - INTERVIEW | John Pilger exposes Australia’s shocking secret in Utopia - 15 November 2013
...In his latest film, Utopia, he turns his incisive hand to a topic integral to the Australian story, yet ostensibly glossed over by many of its own inhabitants – that of Indigenous Australia. The devastating inequalities suffered by the Aboriginal community are revealed against a backdrop of the great mineral resources boom sustaining the economic prosperity of a population Pilger argues are indifferent to the apartheid culture it is sustaining...
Education and public debate are important, but the catastrophe imposed on Indigenous Australians is the equivalent of apartheid, and the system has to change. Colonialism in Australia has to end, finally. There has to be genuine political, social and moral restitution, and that means a treaty and universal land rights. By treaty, I mean a constitutionally binding ‘bill of rights’ for Indigenous people and recognition of their right to self-determination. This can only be achieved by negotiation between the majority and minority populations on an equal basis. Australia is the only western country with an Indigenous population that has no treaty: no framework of mutual respect. Before anything can change, that must change.
Online Opinion & John Pilger's website - The brutal past and present are another country in secret Australia - 14 November 2013
... The town of Wilcannia, in New South Wales, is twice distinguished. It is a winner of a national Tidy Town award and its indigenous people have one of the lowest recorded life expectancies. They are usually dead by the age of 35. The Cuban government runs a literacy programme for them, as they do among the poorest of Africa. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, Australia is the richest place on earth. ...
In 2009, Professor James Anaya, the respected UN Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, described as racist a "state of emergency" that stripped indigenous communities of their tenuous rights and services on the pretext that pedophile gangs were present in "unthinkable" numbers – a claim dismissed as false by police and the Australian Crime Commission. ...
Having reported from South Africa, I was struck by the similarity of white supremacy and the compliance and defensiveness of liberals. Yet no international opprobrium, no boycotts, disturbed the surface of "lucky" Australia. Watch security guards expel Aboriginal people from shopping malls in Alice Springs; drive the short distance from the suburban barbies of Cromwell Terrace to Whitegate camp, where the tin shacks have no reliable power and water. This is apartheid, or what Reynolds calls, "the whispering in our hearts".
The Australian - Aboriginal squalor among Australia's 'dirtiest secrets' says expat - 1 May 2013
"Pilger, an award-winning television journalist who has lived in Britain since 1962, is a long time critic of Australia's "racist" treatment of the Aboriginal population. In this latest film Pilger says that "more than any other colonial society, Australia consigns its dirtiest secrets, past and present, to willful ignorance or indifference". ...
Australian Times - Treatment of Indigenous Australians our "dirtiest little secret", says Pilger - 1 May 2013
"An upcoming documentary, Utopia, produced for ITV by expat John Pilger is set to lift the veil on Australia’s "racist" treatment of its Indigenous population, ... The journalist’s forthcoming documentary Utopia will focus on the experiences of Indigenous Australians living in Western Australia, with an editorial written by Mr Pilger to accompany the film exploring the "squalor on the doorstep of Western Australia’s multibillion-dollar resources rush...."
The Guardian - Australia's boom is anything but for its Aboriginal people - 28 April 2013
...The story of the first Australians is still poverty and humiliation, while their land yields the world's biggest resources boom ... More than any other colonial society, Australia consigns its dirtiest secrets, past and present, to wilful ignorance or indifference. ... Barely a fraction of mining, oil and gas revenue has benefited Aboriginal communities, whose poverty is an enduring shock. In Roebourne, in the mineral-rich Pilbara, 80% of the children suffer from an ear infection called otitis media, which can cause partial deafness. Or they go blind from preventable trachoma. Or they die from Dickensian infections. That is their story." John Pilger, war correspondent, film-maker, author