One of the most extraordinary films about Australia is soon to be released in the UK. This is Utopia, an epic production by the Emmy and Bafta winning film-maker and journalist John Pilger.
Utopia will be previewed at the Curzon Soho in London’s West End on Monday 4 November, where John Pilger will take questions. The film will be released at the Curzon Soho on Friday 15 November.
And on Monday 18 November, the Picture House Brixton will beam Utopia to 30 cinemas across the UK, together with a Q&A with John Pilger.
ITV will broadcast Utopia in December.
John Pilger explains the background to his new film ‘Utopia’ and describes how little has changed since his first film about indigenous Australia in 1985, ‘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…”
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”.
Pilger begins his journey in Sydney, where he grew up, and in Canberra, the nation’s capital, where the national parliament rises in an affluent suburb called Barton, recently awarded the title of Australia’s most advantaged community.
Barton is named after Edmund Barton, the first prime minister of Australia, who in 1901 introduced the White Australia Policy. “The doctrine of the equality of man,” said Barton, “was never intended to apply to those who weren’t British and white-skinned.” He made no mention of the original inhabitants who were deemed barely human, unworthy of recognition in the first suburban utopia.
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? And how could this happen in the 21st century? What role has the media played? Utopia is both a personal journey and universal story of power and resistance and how modern societies can be divided between those who conform and a dystopian world of those who do not conform.
Utopia draws on people and places Pilger first filmed 28 years ago during his long association with the indigenous people of his homeland. The evidence he produces is often deeply moving and shocking.
Utopia is produced by Dartmouth Films and released in association with Network Releasing. A DVD with an extraordinary collection of interviews and sequences not included in the final cut of the film will be released by Network at the same time.
Utopia will be launched in Australia at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, with screenings from 21-23 January and on Australia Day, 26 January. A cinema release and SBS broadcast will follow.
Written, produced and presented by John Pilger
Directed by John Pilger & Alan Lowery
Edited by Joe Frost
Line Producer: Sandra Leeming
Archive Producer: Alec Morgan
Associate Producers: Paddy Gibson & Chris Graham
Director of Photography: Preston Clothier
Co-Executive Producer: Tim Beddows
Executive Producer: Christopher Hird
Facebook – johnpilgerutopia
Twitter – @Utopia_Film