Search this site

FILM: UTOPIA - The Indigenous Peoples of Australia Showing Wed Oct 14th 2015 at 6:40pm

Our New Monthly Film Series




 The Indigenous Aboriginal People
of Australia

Wednesday  October 14th
Pre-film Music at 6:40

Geri Littlejohn
Native American Flute 
Nathan Dyke
Australian Digeridoo

Tickets Only  $6
Utopia is both an epic portrayal of the oldest continuous human culture and an investigation into a suppressed colonial past and rapacious present.     Utopia tells a universal story of power and resistance in the media age driven by old imperatives and presented as liberalism.  The title is derived from the Aboriginal homeland community of Utopia, Northern Territory, one of the poorest and most desolate areas in Australia

The film begins with John Pilger's journey to Utopia to observe the changes that have occurred in Aboriginal Australia between 1985, when he featured the poverty in the documentaryThe Secret Country and the time of filming, 2013. After almost three decades, Pilger discovers that Aboriginal families are still living in extremely overcrowded and poorly sanitized asbestos shacks, and are plagued by easily curable diseases.
The Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, who happens to be in Utopia at the same time as Pilger, ponders why one of the world's richest countries cannot solve the problem of Aboriginal poverty and states that the inequity and injustice could be fixed if the will to do so existed  The film goes on to explore some of the issues currently afflicting Australia such as; failed health policies, Aboriginal deaths in police custody, mining companies failing to share the wealth they have acquired with the first Australians and the disputed allegations made by the media and government that there were pedophile rings, petrol warlords and sex slaves in Aboriginal communities and the resulting 2007 intervention. The film also features a visit to Rottnest Island, Western Australia, where an area that was used as a prison for Aboriginal people until 1931, has now been converted into a luxury hotel where tourists are not even informed of the island's brutal history

CLICK HERE to learn more about the indigenous people of Australia.

Utopia highlights that Aboriginal Australians in Australia are currently imprisoned at 10 times the rate that South Africa imprisoned black people under apartheid, rates of rheumatic heart disease and trachoma among Aboriginal Australians are some of the highest in the world and suicide rates are increasing, especially among youths.  Pilger informs viewers that unlike the US, Canada and New Zealand, no treaty was ever negotiated between the indigenous peoples of Australia and the colonists and that the abandonment of the mining tax in 2010 lost an estimated $60 billion in revenue, which he argues was more than enough to fund land rights and to end all Aboriginal poverty.

Director John Pilger was born and grew up in Bondi, Sydney, Australia. He launched his first newspaper at Sydney High School and later completed a four year cadetship with Australian Consolidated Press. "It was one of the strictest language courses I know," he says. "Devised by a celebrated, literate editor, Brian Penton, the aim was economy of language and accuracy. It certainly taught me to admire writing that was spare, precise and free of cliches, that didn't retreat into the passive voice and used adjectives only when absolutely necessary. I have long since slipped that leash, but those early disciplines helped shape my journalism and writing and my understanding of moving and still pictures".

Like many of his Australian generation, Pilger and two colleagues left for Europe in the early 1960s. They set up an ill-fated freelance 'agency' in Italy (with the grand title of 'Interep') and quickly went broke. Arriving in London, Pilger freelanced, then joined Reuters, moving to the London Daily Mirror, Britain's biggest selling newspaper, which was then changing to a serious tabloid.

He became chief foreign correspondent and reported from all over the world, covering numerous wars, notably Vietnam. Still in his twenties, he became the youngest journalist to receive Britain's highest award for journalism, Journalist of the Year and was the first to win it twice. Moving to the United States, he reported the upheavals there in the late 1960s and 1970s. He marched with America's poor from Alabama to Washington, following the assassination of Martin Luther King. He was in the same room when Robert Kennedy, the presidential candidate, was assassinated in June 1968.

His work in South East Asia produced a iconic issue of the London Mirror, devoted almost entirely to his world exclusive dispatches from Cambodia in the aftermath of Pol Pot's reign. The combined impact of his Mirror reports and his subsequent documentary, Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia, raised almost million for the people of that stricken country. Similarly, his 1994 documentary and dispatches report from East Timor, where he travelled under cover, helped galvanise support for the East Timorese, then occupied by Indonesia.

In Britain, his four-year investigation on behalf of a group of children damaged at birth by the drug Thalidomide, and left out of the settlement with the drugs company, resulted in a special settlement.

His numerous documentaries on Australia, notably The Secret Country (1983), the bicentary trilogy The Last Dream (1988) and Welcome to Australia (1999) all celebrated and revealed much of his own country's 'forgotten past', especially its indigenous past and present.

He has won an Emmy and a BAFTA for his documentaries, which have also won numerous US and European awards, such as as the Royal Television Society's Best Documentary.

His articles appear worldwide in newspapers such as the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Mail & Guardian (South Africa), Aftonbladet (Sweden), Il Manifesto (Italy). He writes a regular column for the New Statesman, London. In 2001, he curated a major exhibition at the London Barbican, Reporting the World: John Pilger's Eyewitness Photographers, a tribute to the great black-and-white photographers he has worked alongside. In 2003, he was awarded the prestigous Sophie Prize for '30 years of exposing injustice and promoting human rights.' In 2009, he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.

Following the film, a discussion will be held  as we open up a dialogue about how the issues raised in the film impact our own lives and the issues for indigenous peoples around the globe including hear in the mountains of WNC.


Our new film series, 
Movies That Matter, 
is curated by 
Katie Kasben

Katie Kasben is a storyteller, but mostly a listener, and strives to be a bridge between current culture and ancient wisdom. She has been a teacher, actress, event planner and once sang at a night club in Beijing before managing a hospitality suite at the Olympics. Katie has been a staff member for local and international film festivals and brought the 48 Hour Film Project to Asheville.
 She has her M.A. in International Communications from Macquarie University, in Sydney, and has spent meaningful time in the Central Desert of Australia working with Tjilpi, an Anangu Elder, and the effects of the "Intervention" on Traditional Owners of that land. She is accompanied on this life journey with her husband Brian Loftin who is a practitioner of Biodynamic Cranio-Sacral work

Upcoming Films in this series include

Wed Oct 14, 2015

Drawing on his long association with the first people of his homeland Australia, Utopia is both an epic portrayal of the oldest continuous human culture, and an investigation into a suppressed colonial past and rapacious present. How can we confront the cultural genocide in Indigenous Australia and meaningfully engage with our own First Nations communities in Western North Carolina?

Nov 12, 2015

Overfed & Undernourished, produced & directed by Troy Jones, examines a global epidemic and our modern lifestyles through one boy’s inspiring and personal journey to regain his health from the inside out. Find community resources and engage with local experts to keep your family healthy!

Dec 10, 2015

In every corner of the globe, we are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at an exponential level as population and technology grows, resulting in the desertification of the earth. The good news is that people everywhere have fought and will continue fighting for their basic right to water. Find out who is controlling our water, and what can we do to protect our natural resources!

Thursday Jan 14, 2016

Narrated by Meryl Streep, this intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers is a celebration of life, as a third of the world’s food supply depends on these incredible – and increasingly threatened – creatures. Join local garden and bee experts for a lively discussion on how to conserve our mountain habitats!

Feb 11, 2016

This powerful documentary was first broadcast on BBC Four in March 2007 to mark the bicentenary of the Slave Trade Act 1807 which abolished the slave trade in the British Empire. In a three-part documentary series, the history of racism over the last 500 years is examined in close detail, revealing some uncomfortable truths about how racist attitudes came into being and spread into popular opinion. We offer a safe space for more than just discussion, but opportunities for action in healing our personal histories and communities.