BANANAS!*, Fredrik Gertten’s film about the struggle of Latin American farm workers, drew such a backlash from Dole Fruit and their lawyers that “supporters” of the arts disowned it and called it “irresponsible” for fear of reprisal.
Gertten joins BYOD to talk about the daunting task of facing a multi-national corporation with only a small team of dedicated filmmakers, and the extent that Dole has gone to slander him in the media and artistic community. The struggle has been documented in his new film, “Big Boys Gone Bananas,” and we get deep into the rewards and enormous difficulty of making a truthful film about big dirty business.
Watch new episodes of BYOD live each week on Tuesdays at noon on TheLip.TV, or tune in for the archived replay starting here on the following Thursday.
BYOD is hosted by Ondi Timoner, director of “DIG!,” “JOIN US” and “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC,” and has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice. Each week the show explores a different documentary filmmaker or aspect of filmmaking, with special guests and a live Q&A– diving deep into creative process and the business realities of producing and distributing films. Ondi shares her insider views, opinions, and personal stories, welcoming audience participation. BYOD aims to entertain, inform, and elevate documentaries in general by bringing attention to films and film makers that deserve exposure.
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 filmmaking 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 in True Blue – The way back and architect Santiago Calatrava in The Socalist, the Architect and the Twister Tower, among others. Dole Food company made his film BANANAS!* controversial by suing the company, producer and director. The fight for the film and freedom of speech won international recognition. In Sweden awarded with several prizes including the Anna Politkovskaya freedom of speech award.
00:01 BYOD Intro.
00:50 Welcoming Fredrik Gertten.
02:58 Big Boys Gone Bananas, Clip. “Cease and Desist.”
04:01 The legal bomb goes off–aggressive tactics from DOLE.
06:54 What was covered in BANANAS!* and why DOLE was so upset.
09:57 Big Boys Gone Bananas, Clip. Juan Dominguez gets on the case.
11:50 Going to Nicaragua to film and find the stories of the people.
15:12 Juan Dominguez, the CEO of DOLE, and how “A bad conscience is easier to deal with than a bad reputation.”
16:55 BANANAS!*, Clip. CEO of DOLE on the stand.
19:19 “Why does your film pose a problem for DOLE?”
21:18 DOLE demands a known banned pesticide and turns the tables on their accusers.
25:15 Spreading corporate misinformation on the internet.
25:50 Big Boys Gone Bananas, Clip. BANANAS!* gets slammed by the media on DOLE’s behalf.
27:33 A difficult choice ahead of the LA Film Festival, and protecting yourself with a camera.
30:52 The difference between making a statement and following a story.
33:30 Big Boys Gone Bananas, Clip. The LA Film Fest controversy.
36:42 Screening the film and responding to being called a fraud by the film fest.
40:27 PR firms attack Fredrik and the film through ‘astroturfing’ and war room tactics.
43:16 Sweden rethinks their support of DOLE fruit.
44:37 From marginalized filmmaker to victory in the Swedish Parliament.
48:53 BANANAS!*, Clip. The CEO on the stand.
51:03 The banana industry, pesticides and corporate responsibility.
53:18 Thanks and Goodbye!