Native Affairs exclusive interview with John Pilger

By Annabelle Lee

Recently, Native Affairs producer Annabelle Lee held an exclusive interview with acclaimed filmmaker, John Pilger, about his epic new film, Utopia.

The extraordinary new film, about the experiences of indigenous Australians, will air tomorrow on Māori Television at 8:30pm.

Utopia refers to a vast region in northern Australia, north of Alice Springs, and is home to the oldest human presence on earth.  It is also the poorest place in Australia.

“This film is a journey into that secret country,’ says Pilger.  “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 has been following the plight of indigenous Australia for the past 30 years and the evidence he produces is often deeply moving and shocking.

In Utopia, he begins his journey in Sydney and Canberra, 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 and who declared “the doctrine of the equality of man was never intended to apply to those who weren’t British and white-skinned”.

He made no mention of Australia’s original inhabitants, who were deemed barely human, unworthy of recognition in the first suburban utopia.

As Barton is the most advantaged part of Australia, Utopia is the most disadvantaged.

Over the course of the film, Pilger questions whether the 'lucky country' has 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.

The film will be made available online after its broadcast via the Māori Television website for NZ viewers only.

Here is the film's official trailer, and you can also visit Pilger's website for more info.