Thursday, July 25, 2024

Utopia Is Anything But In Latest Film For Thought

Bill Monahan

For a few years now Transition Meaford has presented a series of documentary films at Meaford Hall called Films For Thought. Although some of the films shown shine a ray of optimism on the malfunctions of our contemporary world, many of them are uncomfortable, some even scary.

The theory behind showing us these films is that education is the first step to correction and the smallest steps can aggregate to big changes. They are presented for those of us who have the courage to face uncomfortable truths and find comfort in discussing them within a community setting.

Admission to these Sunday afternoon films is just $7 for adults and $2 for students, but the real price of admission is opening your heart and mind.

This Sunday, October 30, the film offering is Utopia, a 2013 documentary by John Pilger, Australian-born filmmaker and polemicist. It is a harsh look at systemic racism in his native country. With the Truth and Reconciliation movement now front and centre in the Canadian consciousness, this film will surely make us think. The treatment of aboriginal Australians indicated by the film is characterized as “horrific” by reviewers. Parallels with the Canadian situation may be tenuous. This is not a story of broken treaties. There were no treaties with the aboriginals in Australian. Instead there were massacres and concentration camps. However, what their treatment has in common with our own First Nations are inequalities in housing, health, wealth, social conditions, imprisonment, avoidable death and life expectancy. Both countries are guilty of “stolen generations”. In Canada, children were removed from their families on the pretext of “civilizing” them; in Australia the pretext was fabricated charges of child abuse.

What is most shocking about this documentary is that the argument is made that this is not a closed chapter in history but a prelude to an ongoing problem. Perhaps by viewing this example we in our little community will gain insights that can help insure that, through truth and reconciliation, we can make some contribution to putting systemic racism behind us in this country and move on to the shared ownership of the future that our present Prime Minister has promised.

The Films For Thought are shown the last Sunday of each month, 1 p.m., at Meaford Hall. A group discussion, often the most stimulating part of the experience, follows the showing for those who wish to stay.

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