Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

Synopsis: Dole Food Company wages a campaign to prevent a pair of Swedish film-makers from showing their documentary about a lawsuit against the company.
Director(s): Fredrik Gertten
Production: WG Film
  1 win & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

We have a media that is corrupted by power,

mostly by corporate power.

To go after your film is just a little tiny part

of a big investment they're willing to make.

Dole is a company with deep deep pockets.

I'm sure they're hiring the very best.

I think it would be a little bit naive

if you think that you can take

a pop at a big multinational and

expect to walk away without some

sort of fight on your hands.

It was beyond belief to think that that

counld be done to a participant in a film festival.

I think that Dole succeded in planting doubt

about the credibility of the story.

As a Swedish director and editor.

I take freedom of speech for granted.

Now I know that freedom of speech

depends on what you want to say.

In 2009 I made a film about a

lawsuit in Los Angeles

where Nicaraguan banana workers

challenged Dole's use

of banned pesticides.

According to the workers,

the poison made them sterile,

and a host of other problems.

This is about the battle.

Hopefully, the penalty will

wake their conscience.

Workers have waited for their

rights for over a decade.

In November 2007, Los Angeles-based

Court of Justice handed down a

judgment :

Dole had acted deliberately wrong.

And was ordered to pay

a substantial fee.

Leading to the judgment,

I was hoping for better working

conditions in banana plantations.

The Dole case, however,

turned out to be was extremely frustrating.

Presentation of the film

was anything but easy.

In early May 2009 we were expecting

a premiere of the film "Bananas!"

One morning, a big package

arrived from the United States.

We published about the premiere on

our website a couple of days earlier.

Our film participated in the

Los Angeles Film Festival's

competition series.


We received a warning letter from Dole

Food Company law firm.

Dear Mr.

Gertten, Mrs. Jangaard, Mr. Simpson.

If we persisted, Dole would

challenge us in the court of law.

A number of blatantly false and

defamatory statements...

... facts concering our client,

Dole Food Company

Our company has only four employees.

Dole employs over 75000

people in 90 countries,

their turnover is over

seven billion dollars a year.

It's the world's largest

fruit company.

"The movie about Dole is based on deception"

"and the banana workers lied."

The tone of the letter was very


It was 200 pages of court documents

and newspaper clippings.

And they haven't even see the movie !

What is this thing?

We're attacked by the Dole?

We were sure that this was

just a misunderstanding.

When they will see the movie, all will be fine.

"We urge you to stop immediately."

"... false and defamatory

statementsabout our company"

"Otherwise, we will take legal action."

When the cease and desist letter came in

from Dole I was also mentioned.

And, I guess in come way,

I was kind of flattered.

It was, kind of, wow, ok, nice,

I'm on the radar of Dole, that's

really nice to see.

But my wife, really,

brought me back to reality,

and said

this is quite serious, you know,

we could lose the house, a lot

of thing could happen.

The same package was sent to the

festival's sponsors.

David, the press agent of The

Los Angeles Film Festival said

that if we want the film to be

included in the competition category,

we needed to keep it quiet.

The organizers felt pressured

We didn't get to talk to the press.

What happened was, Dole decided to go

after everybody so they could stop the film.

And so, in doing so, they threatened everybody.

They threatened me, they threatened the LA Film Festival,

by going to all of the major sponsors,

including the L.A. Times.

And I think it was important that we all had a united front,

as we started to step towards the screening at the film festival.

I wanted to tell the whole world, but

I didn't do it.

I didn't reveal everything when I was

interviewed on Swedish TV.

I didn't speak about the letter,

or about the fact that maybe we

won't be able to show the film.

I wrote a story about a documentary,

which competes int the

Los Angeles Film Festival.

A few days later I received an e-mail message.

A long e-mail message,

submitted by Dole's public

relations office in Washington.

They said the film is based on

errors and lies.

At the beginning I was scared.

My first reaction was fear.

The situation was very uncomfortable.

I made a small story for a small

local broadcaster.

How did Dole found about it?

Do they have eyes everywhere?

Then I got annoyed.

The message seemed to be

a hidden threat.

When I replied to the message,

I received a call from Dole's lawyer.

"I have made it very clear to this producer,

and to the L.A. Film festival."

"Given that, they're on notice as to the

absolute inaccurate basis on wich they built this film,"

"and they're going forward with it :

one, they're going to get sued,"

"and two, they're going to be exposed

to punitive damages"

I asked Carter what that

erroneous information was

that's the basis on which the film is built.

Then he tried to run over me and

continued to exert pressure.

I became annoyed.

But you haven't seen the film.

- The film is based on a sham, that's the point.

But have you seen the film?

- I already told you, no Charlotte.

We didn't tell about the threats to anyone.

Dole self- initiated media furore.

Is that, therefore, the front page of?

- Yes.

I told you yesterday that this will be

a big deal.

This is a los angeles business journal

home page.

Note Dole banana character.

The document creates Dole enemy hero,


While this is demonstrably forged a

lawsuit facts.

The author of the story has not even

seen the movie!

I wanted to tell the impact of

pesticides on workers,.

But the dole managed to divert

attention elsewhere.

Appeared in the new magazine articles

and blog posts.

Dole was the main target of attacks by

workers represented by juan dominguez.

He was made slippery Cuban born a

cheap lawyer,.

Which tightened the beloved American


Now, a naive Swedish film director

made ??a konnasta hero!

It means that the Film Festival


They admitted it directly.

The President said very clearly.

Not to see the film in the competition


Is it, therefore, that.

That it is presented in a special

presentation, or not at all?

So, he said.

- It is all about?

That 's right.

And the response time is five minutes.

Film Festival was informed that the

matter has been discussed a lot.

The best way to proceed would be to

remove the film competition series.

We have been driven into a corner,

when we have to decide quickly.

Do we want to participate in the film

festival in the first place or not.

Dole's lawyers have used us,.

Since we have not found a movie out


If we withdraw now, because we can not

race series,.

Dole looks a winner, and I do not want


I became angry indeed.

What an insult!

We have been working hard.

This thing could destroy the film.

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Fredrik Gertten

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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