In “Utopia”, veteran documentary maker John Pilger explores the continued maltreatment of his country’s Aboriginal population, borrowing its ironic title from the name of a poverty-stricken settlement in Australia’s Northern Territories.
“Why is it than in one of the richest countries in the world people live in conditions that are usually more associated with Africa and India,” asks Pilger. “Why do children die of preventable diseases while literally, almost literally, down the road – this is true of Alice Springs – white children live as they do in any developed society? Why is that disparity and why don’t people talk about it?”
The film denounces what Pilger sees as a form of unrepentant apartheid and denounces the history of forced assimilation and state-enforced child removals. Pilger talks of the abuse against the Aboriginal population and racist stereotypes often associated with Indigenous people:
“To most of the media in Australia, indigenous people are portrayed in stereotypes as drunks. The implication is that it’s hopeless. Well it’s far from hopeless and there are some very basic things that could be fixed almost overnight and they have to do with caring for children, caring for families that find themselves impoverished, bringing basic services to remote communities and so on,” says the director.
The documentary also looks at the so-called “Intervention” in 2007, when government troops invaded Aborigine land under the pretext of child molestation – territories which happened to be on mineral-rich land.
Utopia is on release now in UK cinemas and will be out on DVD in December.