BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* documents the horrors director Frederik Gertten and his team faced when they tried to release BANANAS!*, a Swedish documentary about a lawsuit Nicaraguan workers brought against Dole Food Company over alleged cases of sterility caused by pesticide DBCP.
BANANAS!* had originally been selected for competition by the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival, and Gertten and his team considered this the film’s worldwide premier. But just before leaving Sweden to attend the festival, Gertten was informed that BANANAS!* had been removed from competition after Dole threatened possible legal action against the festival.
It turns out that neither Dole nor their attorneys had seen the complete film – only the trailer and promotional materials – but they didn’t like it. And because the fraud case featured in BANANAS!* was being discussed in court, Dole sent cease and desist letters to try to shut down the film.
Having a journalistic background and not wanting to miss any of the action, Gertten decided to film the unfolding story. From Dole’s defamation lawsuit against him in the USA, the scare tactics involved, media-control, PR-spin, and interviews with colleagues, journalists who chose to run stories in Gertten’s favour and even Swedish PMs – Gertten and his team got it all on camera.
What results is an absolutely riveting story highlighting the importance of freedom of speech, and accurately questions our right to create independent documentaries and question large corporate and multinational companies. And with our ability to self-publish anything we want on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., it’s more important than ever that we understand just how far our right to free speech can protect us.
If you’re in London we highly recommend checking out the screening on Tuesday 18th September at the Prince Charles cinema at 6.30PM, which will include a Q+A session with the film’s director, Fredrik Gertten, and guests.
The film’s UK release date is set for 21st September 2012.