Published on November 24th, 2011 | by Rhonda Winter1
Dole Goes Bananas — Swedish Filmmakers & Free Speech Prevail
A couple of years ago we told you about the Swedish filmmakers of Bananas!*, who were able to defeat a lawsuit from the gargantuan Dole Food Corporation. Their documentary movie examined the politics of global food by following the crusade of lawyer Juan J. Dominguez, as he successfully fought for the rights of thousands of banana plantation workers in Nicaragua who had been made sterile by Dole from exposure to the banned pesticide DBCP (Dibromo Chloropropane).
David Slays Banana Goliath
In a futile attempt to squash the Bananas!* documentary, as well as free speech, the multinational Dole Food Corporation unsuccessfully attempted to sue the makers of the film. Big Boys Gone Bananas!* chronicles the independent filmmakers’ epic struggle against the mammoth corporation’s fatuous lawsuit. The tale is an inspiring David beats Goliath parable, from which Fredrik Gertten and the Swedish artists eventually emerge victorious.
The new documentary illustrates how Gertten and his producer, Margarete Jangård, found the strength to continue fighting the unrelenting attacks and pressure from the billionaire banana giant. The uplifting story of how they beat Dole’s lawsuit is interwoven with interviews with journalists, Swedish politicians, authors, supporters and legal experts.
In the recent review of the new film in ScreenDaily, Mark Adams explains how local support from Swedish elected officials really helped to turn things around:
“…Then – in the sort of thing that could perhaps only happen in Sweden and might be chopped out of any feature film adaptation – Gertten bumps into Social Democrat MP Luciano Astudillo at his local cheese shop. Astudillo asks if he can help, and they agree to set up a screening of BANANAS!* in Parliament.
Swedish MPs come out in support of the film and – more importantly – Gertten’s right to get it screened, with further pressure coming from the country’s supermarket chains which demand a response from Dole. Then on October 15, 2009, two hours before a meeting between Parliament and the supermarket bosses, Dole withdraws the lawsuit. Gertten’s lawyer pursues legal action against Dole and on October 22, 2009, wins the case for defamation against Dole and is awarded £200,000 in attorney fees.”
I love it when the good guys win; and that seems to happen so very rarely lately. We will keep you posted as to when Gertten’s Big Boys Gone Bananas!* will hopefully be screening soon in the United States at a theater or film festival near you.