Hard-line Australian journalist John Pilger asks important questions concerning one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the world in his new documentary feature – Utopia.
The Emmy and Bafta-winning John Pilger has revisited a subject that he’s been covering for over twenty-five years. The issue of Aboriginal equality in Australia has been an underlying problem for many years. What this film highlights is not only the political injustice of the situation, but also the apparent lack of desire for change within Australia itself. The overall impression that you get from this feature is that the white Australian public are either in denial over the horrific treatment of the indigenous sector of the population – and are furiously defensive when asked about it – or are aware of the maltreatment but cannot or will not provide solutions.
If someone were asked to do a documentary in order to highlight these issues, you would struggle to find someone with better credentials than Pilger. Aside from the fact that he’s Australian, Pilger is one of the most prolific and well-respected documentary film-makers around. What really comes across in this film is Pilger’s frustration with the Australian government for not only slowing down progress, but actually actively contributing to the gradual wiping out of the oldest group of people in the world. One indigenous onlooker quite poignantly states “we’re refugees in our own country.” Pilger uses countless examples of police brutality and public disdain towards the Aborigines that serve to justify that belief.
Despite the fact that the documentary is an attempt to shake up the status quo in Australia, it is also an international plea for other countries to help out. Some of the more liberal-minded Australians featured in the documentary feel as though the matter is almost too big for Australia to handle alone. Perhaps this had something to do with the premiere taking place in London this month and that Australians will only be able to see it from December onwards.
Or perhaps the premiere took place in London because it was the British after all who started this hundreds of years ago at the height of British imperialism. Either way, whether you’re a white Australian or from any other part of the civilised world, the harsh realities exposed in this film should not exist in 2013. Considering Australia is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it’s even more appalling that it also houses some of the worst poverty too. But perhaps those two things are not mutually exclusive.
This is Pilger’s second full-length documentary on the topic and it is certainly as important – if not more – than the one he made over twenty years ago.