John Pilger from Breaking the Silence to Utopia

John PilgerAn updated edition of Anthony Hayward’s book about the journalist and documentary-maker’s work, Breaking The Silence: The Films of John Pilger, is published by Profiles International Media in November 2013 as an e-book. It ties in with the cinema, television and DVD release of Pilger’s latest film, Utopia.

For five decades, John Pilger’s documentaries have been exposing injustices around the world and bringing to account those in power who make decisions that affect the lives of others, often in faraway countries. From his first film, The Quiet Mutiny, Pilger made waves, revealing the shocking truth about American troop rebellions in the Vietnam War. More recently, in the wake of September 11th, he has been a rare media voice in questioning the United States’s foreign policy and its imperial ambitions.

Scenes of the starving in his landmark documentary Year Zero − The Silent Death of Cambodia, filmed in the aftermath of Pol Pot’s genocide, helped to trigger $45 million in aid for that country. Pilger has highlighted repression in Czechoslovakia, East Timor and Burma, the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine and, with his first film for both television and the cinema, the attempts by small countries to carve out their own democracies, without interference from the United States. The British-based journalist has also subjected his own home country of Australia to affectionate but critical examinations over the years, culminating in his 2013 film Utopia.

His dedication to uncovering unpalatable truths and his disregard for traditional journalistic concepts of ‘impartiality’ and ‘balance’ have sometimes brought him into conflict with both the political and broadcasting establishments. In Breaking the Silence: The Films of John Pilger, Anthony Hayward traces Pilger’s screen career, details the documentaries, their effects and controversies, and compares them with other factual output on TV and in the cinema. It is published to tie in with the release of Pilger’s epic film Utopia.

The new documentary will look into one of the world’s greatest current social and economic injustices, Australian apartheid. Utopia is set for release on iTunes and Curzon on Demand from November 15th and to own on DVD from the 2nd of December 2013 –  ahead of its ITV transmission later that month.

Utopia is a vast region in northern Australia and home to the oldest human presence on earth. The documentary describes not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but also their trail of tears, betrayal and resistance – from one utopia to another.

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? And how could this happen in the 21st century? What role has the media played? Adding further substance to Pilger’s film are thirty interviews with Aborigine elders, journalist and broadcaster Jeff McMullen, Salil Shetty, Secretary for Amnesty International, Australian politicians and a wide variety of NGOs, experts in Aborigine culture and victims of the current system.

Special features exclusive to the UK DVD include a booklet by Pilger expert Anthony Hayward and more than four hours of unseen footage filmed during the making of the programme. Utopia is produced by Secret Country Films and Dartmouth Films in association with Network Releasing.

More information on the e-book Breaking The Silence: The Films of John Pilger, on sale at £3.99, can be found here. Utopia is released in the UK, RRP £14.99, by NetworkDVD.

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