Award-winning documentary maker John Pilger and Liz Ann will sit down next Sunday in the Opera House’s Concert Hall to battle the various unofficial truths such as how the treatment of our First Nations people is often presented in stereotypes while the majority deny the rapacious past, and present. They aspire to cover the controversial matters of class, where Australia’s cultivated image of a 'land of fair go for all’ increasingly falls victim to a corporatised world of widening inequality. And they endeavour to address our contradictory mythology of a proud, independent nation with the often secretive role of Australia as an appendage of the United States and the rise of militarism.
John Pilger’s latest film, Utopia traces the political and social history of Australia’s indigenous communities. A vast region in northern Australia, Utopia is home to the oldest living culture in the world. As John himself says in the film, “this film is a journey into that secret country. It describes not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance – from one utopia to another.’
John Pilger has a list of adventures few of us have experienced. He’s been a war correspondent, author and filmmaker. As an Australian, he is only one of two to win British journalism’s highest award twice (and obviously as an unmentionable desire of all Australians to succeed in Britain, this is pretty incredible).
For his documentary films, he has won an Emmy and a British Academy Award. His epic 1979 Cambodia Year Zero is ranked by the British Film Institute as one of the ten most important documentaries of the 20th century. Death of a Nation, filmed secretly in East Timor, had a worldwide impact in 1994. His books include Heroes, Freedom Next Time and A Secret Country. His long association with indigenous Australia has produced four ground-breaking films, including his latest, Utopia. He is a recipient of Australia’s international human rights award, the Sydney Peace Prize, ‘for enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard’ and ‘for fearless challenges to censorship in any form’.
Go and hear John Pilger’s dangerous ideas at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas on Sunday the 31st August from 3:30 – 4–30 pm. Book here