Review: Utopia (2014)

For Filmink: John Pilger’s damning new doco sees the journalist and filmmaker outraged again over indigenous disadvantage in Australia.

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Year: 2013
Rating: M
Director: John Pilger
Cast: Mal Brough, Kevin Rudd
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Distributor: Antidote Films
Running time: 110 minutes
Film Worth: $16.50
FILMINK rates movies out of $20 – the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth.

John Pilger’s damning new doco sees the journalist and filmmaker outraged again over indigenous disadvantage in Australia.

Journalist John Pilger has long been interested in revealing a Western imperialist agenda and that continues with his latest documentary, Utopia, which delves into the plight of oppressed, suffering and displaced Indigenous Australians. The title, Utopia, refers to a district of Australia – the Northern Territory region north of Alice Springs – set solely for Aboriginals, which proves to be anything but as Pilger delivers an intense condemnation of the continuing mistreatment of Indigenous people in this country.

While Pilger’s earlier film, Welcome To Australia, revealed how Native Australians were excluded from the celebration of the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, Utopia explores the many ways Indigenous people continue to suffer in contemporary Australia. This includes lack of access to healthcare, police brutality, psychological damage, deficient employment, poverty and continuing displacement in the community. Taking a look at the past and the history of arbitrary abuse, Pilger likens the Aboriginal situation to South African Apartheid during the latter part of last century.

Pilger continues to relay the stories of these people and the turmoil they face without sensationalising the subjects, going further to question people responsible for mistakes and inactions. It adds up to a documentary that is hard-hitting and opinionated, thought provoking and incisive. Its presentation in a simple and factual manner, however, renders the film a little tedious at times. A bleak but powerful film, Pilger reminds us that resolving the issues of Indigenous people is far from over.

Utopia will premiere at Sydney’s Redfern on January 17. Details here. It will also play at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova from January 30.

Originally published on FilmInk Magazine online, January 9, 2014.

Watch the trailer for John Pilger’s Utopia here:


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