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Review: Utopia

Tiarne Shutt shares her review of the film Utopia, to be screened for students to enjoy during the Thursday of Indigenous Festival week.


That’s the first thing that crossed my mind when watching John Pilger’s film, Utopia. I thought that Pilger’s portrayal of the Indigenous Australians today was hugely confronting. So confronting that I had to stop watching it half way through because it made me sad to see the poverty stricken areas of remote Indigenous Australia. It made me angry, knowing that concentration camps that were previously used to hold Indigenous men prisoner were now used as hotels and day spas – but even worse, I felt helpless when Pilger discussed the issue of child removal of Indigenous children, today.

Pilger is an acclaimed journalist who grew up in Bondi, since dedicating his life to reporting on events that have affected Australia’s minority groups. His first documentary on Indigenous peoples, The Secret Country (1985) lifted the veil of the unknown truths about the shameful Australian treatment of Indigenous people. Utopia is a continuing step towards addressing the issues that still face the First Australians today.

This documentary is fabulous and if you’re interested in Indigenous issues, you may not have picked up on over the past 20 to 30 years, this film will prove to be a worthwhile experience for you.

As much as I enjoyed this film, and although it did make a huge impact on me, Pilger does struggle with objectivity. I watched the film with my boyfriend, when we finished, the first thing he said was, “Well that was biased”. I thought about that for a moment. I agreed. But my reasoning was that these issues were so horrendous that it would be difficult to portray them in any other way. My boyfriend then said; “You can’t trust it, he (Pilger) has too much invested in these issues to be objective”. Reluctantly, I agreed. Pilger may have done a wonderful job at bringing all these issues to light and addressing out nation’s shame…but it seems that Pilger is presenting only his view of the story, and ignoring all others.

Join us for a screening of Utopia during the Indigenous Festival,
from 12:30pm on Thursday 29th May in the New Law Auditorium 101.