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,

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    "Big Boys Gone Bananas!*" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 May 2021. <!*_4035>.

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