Utopia is John Pilger's new feature documentary, made for the cinema and ITV. Drawing on his long association with the first people of Australia, his homeland, Utopia is both an epic portrayal of the oldest continuous human culture and an investigation into a suppressed colonial past and rapacious present.
One of the world's best kept secrets is revealed against a background of the greatest boom in mineral wealth. Has the 'lucky country' inherited South African apartheid?
Utopia tells a universal story of power and resistance in the media age driven by old imperatives and presented as liberalism. Directed by John Pilger and Alan Lowery and edited by Joe Frost.
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.
His previous film, The War You Don't See (2010), was released in UK cinemas in December and broadcast on ITV the following day.
1958-62: Reporter, freelance writer, sports writer and sub-editor, Daily & Sunday Telegraph, Sydney
1962: Freelance correspondent, Italy
1962-63: Middle East desk, Reuter, London
1963-86: Reporter, sub-editor, feature writer and Chief Foreign Correspondent, Daily Mirror
1986-88: Editor-in-Chief and a founder, News on Sunday, London
1969-71: Reporter, World in Action, Granada Television
1974-present: Documentary film-maker, producer, director, reporter, Independent Television Network (ITV), London
Accredited war correspondent in Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Biafra and the Middle East
BBC Television Australia, BBC Radio, BBC World Service, London Broadcasting, ABC Television, ABC Radio Australia, Al Jazeera, Russia Today.
Information Clearing House, TruthOut, ZNet, Common Cause, TruthDig, Online Opinion Australia, Global Research, Antiwar.com.
The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation: New York, The Age: Melbourne, The Sydney Morning Herald, plus French, Italian, Scandinavian, Canadian, Japanese and other newspapers and periodicals.
D. Arts, Lincoln University
D. Litt, Staffordshire University
D. Litt Rhodes University, South Africa
D. Phil, Dublin City University
D. Arts, Oxford Brookes University
D. Laws, St.Andrew's University
D. Phil, Kingston University
D. Univ, The Open University
1995 Edward Wilson Fellow, Deakin University, Melbourne
Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor, Cornell University, USA
1966: Descriptive Writer of the Year
1967: Reporter of the Year
1967: Journalist of the Year
1970: International Reporter of the Year
1974: News Reporter of the Year
1977: Campaigning Journalist of the Year
1979: Journalist of the Year
1979-80: UN Media Peace Prize, Australia
1980-81: UN Media Peace Prize, Gold Medal, Australia
1979: TV Times Readers' Award
1990: The George Foster Peabody Award, USA
1991: American Television Academy Award ('Emmy')
1991: British Academy of Film and Television Arts - The Richard Dimbleby Award
1990: Reporters San Frontiers Award, France
1995: International de Television Geneve Award
2001: The Monismanien Prize (Sweden)
2003: The Sophie Prize for Human Rights (Norway)
2003: EMMA Media Personality of the Year
2004: Royal Television Society Best Documentary, 'Stealing a Nation'
2008: Best Documentary, One World Awards, 'The War On Democracy'
2009: Sydney Peace Prize
2011: Grierson Trustees' Award