What is a big corporation capable of doing in order to protect its brand? Recently, Swedish documentary filmmaker Fredrik Gertten experienced this personally.
What is a big corporation capable of doing in order to protect its brand? Recently, Swedish documentary filmmaker Fredrik Gertten experienced this personally. His previous film Bananas!* recounts the lawsuit that 12 Nicaraguan plantation workers successfully brought against the fruit giant Dole Food Company. That film was selected for competition by the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. Nothing wrong so far, right? But then, just before leaving Sweden to attend the Los Angeles world premiere of his film, Gertten gets a strange message: the festival has decided to remove Bananas!* from competition. Then, a scathing, controversial and misinformed article appears on the cover of the Los Angeles Business Journal about the film a week before the premiere. And subsequently, Gertten receives a letter from Dole’s attorneys threatening legal action if the film is shown at this festival and to cease and desist. What follows is an unparalleled story that Gertten captured on film. He filmed this entire process of corporate bullying and media spin - from Dole attacking the producers with a defamation lawsuit and utilizing scare tactics to media-control and PR-spin. Big Boys Gone Bananas!* can be seen as a thriller and a cautionary tale. Mostly, however, this is a personal story about what happened to Gertten, as a documentary filmmaker and to his company and how the livelihood of documentary filmmakers can be easily put into jeopardy. This powerful film reveals precisely how a multinational will stop at nothing to get its way - freedom of speech is at stake. As Dole’s public relations company puts it, 'It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation'.
Fredrik Gertten is an award winning director and journalist based in Malmö, Sweden. In 1994 he founded the production company WG Film. Before he worked as a foreign correspondent and columnist for radio, TV and press in Africa, Latin America, Asia and around Europe. Today he combines film making with a role as a creative producer on WG Film - famous for local stories with a global understanding, with several films catching the identity and transformation of his hometown. Featuring international stars like footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and architect Santiago Calatrava, among others. Dole Food company made his film Bananas!* controversial by sueing the company, producer and director. The fight for the film and freedom of speech won international recognition and in Sweden was awarded with several prizes including the Anna Politkovskaya Freedom of Speech Award.