City to premiere Utopia documentary in Redfern

The Australian premiere of a new documentary detailing Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be at a free screening at The Block in Redfern.

The City of Sydney is lending its support to the screening of Utopia, made by British-based Australian journalist John Pilger, before an expected huge, open-air crowd at The Block on Friday, 17 January at 7pm.

Mr Pilger, who will introduce the film on the night, says the 110-minute film shows Australia is a secret country that covers up its treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It contrasts those conditions with the affluence of Palm Beach in Sydney’s north and the Canberra suburb of Barton, home of the federal parliament.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City of Sydney was proud to give members of the local Redfern community an opportunity to attend the Australian premiere of the film for free.

“The City is delighted to bring the premiere screening of this film to the Block,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Mr Pilger is an award-winning filmmaker, with vast experience as a journalist and is never afraid to shine a light on confronting issues. His work challenges how we all think and raises awareness of one the most important issues of our generation.

“His 1985 film A Secret Country was groundbreaking, and in the ensuing years he has revisited many times the subject of maltreatment of Australia’s original inhabitants.’’

Mr Pilger took two years to make the film, shot mainly in Utopia, a huge, sparsely populated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander homeland in the Northern Territory, which includes the site of a former cattle station of the same name.

“I have been making films about the first people of my country for more than 30 years,” Mr Pilger said. “It is they who are Australia’s true distinction, its uniqueness and yet, as one Elder tells me in Utopia, ‘It is as if we are refugees in our own country’.’’

As part of his film Mr Pilger has interviewed federal politicians including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Northern Territory MP Warren Snowden and former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough.

The film’s associate producer, Paddy Gibson, has visited Utopia many times in his work as a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney’s Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning and was delighted the film will be screened in Redfern.

Utopia has received mostly favourable reviews in the UK and was ranked fifth best film of 2013 by movie website London Film Review.

For media enquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Media Specialist Matthew Moore phone 0431 050 963 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Tyron Butson on
02 9265 9752 or email