First Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten made a film called Bananas about workers’ health on Dole Food’s plantations in Guatemala. Then Dole attacked and sued Gertten. Time for a new film! On May 8, Awareness Film Night will present Big Boys Gone Bananas, a classic David vs. Goliath story about freedom of speech and what happens to a documentary filmmaker when he goes up against a large corporation.
When Bananas was selected for competition at the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festivals in 2008 suddenly Gertten got a message that the festival was removing his film from the competition. Then a scathing article appeared in a local paper about the film, the filmmakers and the workers in Guatemala, and finally, the filmmaker received a letter from Dole’s attorney threatening him with legal action. What follows in a true thriller that has Gertten capturing the entire process on film – Dole attacking the producers with a defamation lawsuit, bullying scare tactics, media control and shocking PR spin. This film reveals precisely how a multinational will stop at nothing to get its way. As Dole’s PR company put it, “it is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation.”
But Gertten does not buckle, and in the end it is the people who ultimately prevail, thus creating a cautionary tale and a real life reminder that standing up to bullies does work. Big Boys Gone Bananas is a revealing look at how we, the public, are often blatantly manipulated and at what a big corporation is capable of in order to protect its brand. Interestingly, Big Boys Gone Bananas has been screened worldwide and has been one of the most popular and widely screened documentaries of the 2012/2013 film season. Showtime is May 8, 7 p.m. At Edward Milne community theatre. Admission is by donation.