Grocery

Bananas!*

Bananas

Year: 2009

Type: Documentary film (87 minutes) and website

Director: Fredrik Gertten 

Production company: WG Film AG, Sweden (website).

Availability: Rent or buy On Demand (on Vimeo here and here, on Amazon Prime here and here) or buy DVD (£22.98 on amazon.co.uk and new from $23.98 and used from $2.98 on amazon.com).

Page reference: Cook et al, I. (2020) Bananas!* followthethings.com (https://www.followthethings.com/bananas.shtml last accessed <insert date here>)

[See our page on the sequel to this film - Big Boys Gone Bananas!* - here]

Trailer & stream

Bananas!* from WG Film on Vimeo.

Descriptions

BANANAS!* is a suspenseful, layer-peeling, court room drama (Source: Anon nda, np link).

[It] tells the story of a trial that took place in Los Angeles in 2007 (Source: Lindvall 2011, np link).

[It’s] a compelling documentary … a real-life Erin Brockovich (Source: Fitzherbert 2010, np).

[This is] 'The film Dole Food Co. doesn't want you to see' [and that’s] more than a simple marketing ploy; it's the truth (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

This is the documentary that made Dole so upset (Source: WG Film 2015, np link).

[It] is one of the most controversial films to hit the big screen, even without a distribution deal (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

For the first time in history a small US law firm represents Nicaraguan plantation workers who are all infertile because of the toxic pesticides [that Dole] used on their banana plantations. Does a small law firm stand a chance against the power of a multi-billion dollar corporation (Source: Anon ndb, np link)?

The presentation is a true story … of humble people taken advantage of for sake of profit in the harvesting of bananas for the Dole International Company (Source: Flavin 2013, np link).

[It] has real suspense, following the ups and downs of the legal case … (Source: Isacsson 2009, np link).

… but [is] heartwrenching because it is true, and still going on (Source: Gotami 2013, np link).

Can a group of poor Nicaraguans succeed in a trial against an American corporation? What risks have transnational concerns dared take in the Third World? Can [this] film by Swedish documentarist [Fredrik Gertten] prove the freedom of speech in the United States (Source: Anon ndc, np link)?

[W]ill you ever eat bananas again after watching this revealing, suspenseful film (Source: Anon ndb, np link)?

Watch how [this] big 'banana' ugly corporation does everything it can, use every cent of its might to fight this message but does not use one iota of humanity to stop spraying pesticides which hurt the farmers (Source: Amazon Customer 2011, np link).

As the banana plantation workers suffer and die at the hands of the greedy fruit corporation, Juan Dominguez, a personal injury lawyer, defends the Nicaraguan peoples human rights in his attempt to force a major American corporation to take responsibility for their actions outside of the U.S. (Source: Anon ndd, np link).

Dominguez [is] a Los Angeles-based … (Source: Oscilloscope Laboratories 2015, np link).

… flamboyant Cuban-American … (Source: Lindvall 2011, np link).

… personal injury attorney … (Source: Oscilloscope Laboratories 2015, np link).

… [or] ambulance-chasing lawyer … (Source: Whittle 2010, np link).

… [who is] a member of the 'Million Dollar Club' of attorneys in Southern California … (Source: Anon 2009a, np link).

… a sparkly-toothed LA legal eagle who drives a Ferrari … (Source: Huddleston 2010, np link).

… sips espresso from a gold-plated cup … (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

… has a bust of Caesar on his desk and speaks passionately of his feelings towards 'the little guy’ … (Source: Huddleston 2010, np link).

… [and], although iconic within [Los Angeles’] Latino community for his ubiquitous billboard ads … (Source: Oscilloscope Laboratories 2015, np link).

… is unquestionably facing the biggest case and challenge of his career (Source: Oscilloscope Laboratories 2015, np link).

He does so without any funding, at his own expense, choosing a group of only 12 workers as a test case (Source: Isacsson 2009, np link).

Peasants vs corporations: that's how he frames his critique. 'Predatory capitalism': that's what he says Dole is guilty of (Source: Sandhu 2010, np link).

The narrative, then, is all in place: Uncle Sam will be given a black eye (Source: Whittle 2010, np link).

At stake in the classic David vs. Goliath story are the futures of generations of workers and their families, as well as the culture of global, multinational business (Source: Oscilloscope Laboratories 2015, np link).

Can he beat the giant, or will the corporation get away with it (Source: WG Film 2015, np link)?

If successful, the case could rock the economic foundations of Dole, and would open the US courts to other global victims, representing a new day in international justice (Source: Oscilloscope Laboratories 2015, np link).

Dominguez … intended the case to be a 'bellwether' precedent-setter that would open legal doors for all the Nicaraguans who had been damaged by Dole's use of a chemical … (Source: Alioff 2011, np link).

… [called] dipromochloropropane (DBCP) known by its brand names, Nemagon and Fumazone (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

The suit finds its plaintiffs accusing Dole of causing infertility en masse among their population thanks to the use of … DBCP (Source: samcall-914 (859) nd, np link).

[The film explains that] DBCP was administered either by air, through irrigation guns or pumped into the ground (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

Airplanes sprayed chemicals on plantations on plants, fruits, and ... workers. Those are basically drenched by the chemicals. Unsurprisingly they developed all sorts of illnesses (Source: sono-babbo-natale 2014, np link).

Since the mid 1950's, DBCP was used around the world as an agricultural pesticide targeted at small worms, Nematodes, that lived in the soil feeding on plant roots (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

By the 1970's it was determined that DBCP was also harmful [to] other life forms. It had a definite effect on the mortality of fish, insects and mollusks. It affected the physiology of phytoplankton.  And for humans, the toxicity ranged from carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, to neurotoxicity, we well as being directly attributable to kidney and liver damage (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

In 1977 [DBCP’s primary manufacturer] Dow Chemical discovered that some of their California employees who had handled DBCP were sterile (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

Within months, the [US] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had suspended most uses of the chemical (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

[W]hen California banned its use in 1977, Dow recalled all of its DBCP stock from its customers in the US and stopped manufacturing it. One of those customers was Dole (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

[After] Dow wrote to Standard Fruit Company that they were ceasing DBCP production and that Dole should return unused inventory[,] Dole wrote back that if Dow did not continue delivering the pesticide it was in breach of contract. Dow agreed to continue delivering DBPC only after Dole's lawyers promised to indemnify Dow for any future liabilities stemming from its use. Dole complied with this request and stopped using DBCP only after it had depleted its last canister (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

[To repeat,] Dole did not stop using these products, but in fact BOUGHT THE ENTIRE INVENTORY !!!! They even indemnified Dow from any liabilities - which shows they knew about this problem but still continued to use it across the board. Result: The farmers suffered with sterility and cannot bear children (Source: Amazon Customer 2011, np link)!

[So, after being withdrawn in the USA, t]hese pesticides [continued to be] sprayed at will on the Banana plantations where workers lived as well as the only water available to the workers to bath and cook (Source: Cardona 2012, np link).

Filmed in pure documentary style, the events [in this case] are chronicled through interviews, actual trial film footage and narration (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

At first glance, 'Bananas!*' seems like just the latest in a long line of agit-prop docs warning consumers off their favourite foodstuffs (Source: Huddleston 2010, np link).

Emotional stakes are immediately raised during the opening scene, a bleak funeral procession. And throughout the film, there are heart-wrenching interviews with family members of dead banana workers (Source: Mak 2011, np link).

[We watch] archival footage [of] families grieving over the deaths of loved ones (deaths which heirs believe to be attributable to the decedents' exposure to DBCP), actual courtroom trial footage, meetings between the Nicaraguan plaintiffs and their Los Angeles attorney Juan 'Accidentes' Dominguez and one of the most ethical and passionate trial lawyers in California, plaintiffs' trial counsel, Duane Miller, as well as the estimable defense attorney, Rick McKnight (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

The strongest aspect of this documentary … constitutes its emotional core: the personal stories, particularly the account given by Byron Rosales Romero, a young man whose deceased father, Alberto Rosales, was a banana-plantation worker (Source: Ericson nd, np link).

For his whole life, Alberto Rosales used his machete to remove weeds from below the banana plants. His son says his last years were filled with pain, a body that was itching all night - and in the end his kidneys stopped working (Source: WG Films 2015, np link).

Inside the church [at his funeral], filled with friends and family, Father Bayardo begins his sermon. It's not about Alberto Rosales after awhile. It's about pesticides. Father Bayardo is accusing landowners and US transnationals of immoral practices which he says cause the death and suffering of many members of his community. The whole region of Chinandega is an ecological disaster zone. The pesticide spray has left its mark everywhere. The soil, the water, the animals, the food of the people are all affected. The level of pesticides in breastmilk is 700 times higher than is acceptable. Some say it will take 200 years for the ground to heal itself enough to produce natural crops again (Source: Anon 2009a, np link).

Enter Juan Dominguez (Source: Anon 2009a, np link).

I have never liked the big guy picking on the little guy (Source: Dominguez in Anon ndc, np link).

Dominguez … sees a news report on CNN about the widespread use of the pesticide in the 60s and 70s and its link to illness and sterility. In 2004 he makes an exploratory trip to the banana growing Chinandega province of Nicaragua and finds many aging, family-less men saying they were sickened by exposure (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

[So] he launched a crusade to assist workers whose health had seemingly been damaged because of what he deemed to be a wilful act of corporate indifference (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

He registers 10,000 workers who claim to be afflicted and launches a lengthy lawsuit against Dole representing 12 allegedly sterile plaintiffs (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

By means of th[is] 'pilot' group, Dominguez want[s] to start a case proving that Dole had been using harmful pesticides in Central America for five years after their international ban issued in 1977, exposing thousands of completely uninformed and frequently illiterate employees to the threat of sterility, cancer and other diseases (Source: Anon ndc, np link).

Proceeding through the litigation process, we are witness to … Dominguez and his Nicaraguan liaison team as they put the wheels in motion for this massive class action undertaking - spreading the word via town hall meetings, rallies and on the radio, interviewing potential plaintiffs, followed by the taking of their depositions and ultimately, trial testimony. There are interviews with family members who have their own interpretations (whether scientifically documented or not) of why a loved one has died or why a healthy baby is born after a pregnant woman stopped working on the plantation after prior miscarriages when she remained at work instead of stopping.These are people, like you and me, with their own opinions about events that have touched their lives (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

There is raw human emotion and even humor [in this footage]. This is life. This is litigation. This is a front row seat to a history making event, that of third world claimants being heard as plaintiffs for the first time in a U.S. Court. That in and of itself makes this film worthwhile (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

BANANAS!* is filled with arresting scenes, and the in court testimony of current Dole CEO David DeLorenzo is among its most shocking. He admits under oath that his company knew the chemical was unsafe, but continued to use it with only scant concern for the men, women, and children dwelling on the plantations that produced the world's most popular and profitable fruit crop (Source: Koeppel 2011, np link).

[He] attest[s] to the authenticity of letters written in 1977 to Dow Chemical Company wherein Dole threatened to sue Dow for breach of contract if Dow did not continue to supply Dole with DBCP, as well as letters documenting Dole's offer to indemnify Dow and hold Dow harmless and protect Dow from any claims for personal injury that may arise by injured workers or other 'third parties' exposed to DBCP (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

DeLorenzo's attestations contain not just corporate history, but personal [history]. He managed the banana company's operations in Nicaragua during the Nemagon era. He effectively signed off on the chemical's use (Source: Koeppel 2011, np link).

The … the plaintiffs' attorney Duane Miller presents his clients as traumatized, corporately-violated victims [of Dole’s continued use of DBCP] (Source: samcall-914 (859) nd, np link).

This is no open and shut case though. Dole spares no expense to hire a top notch defense attorney who raises considerable doubts as to whether the plaintiffs were ever fertile or even if they truly became sterile (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

[The film shows how he tries to undermine] their shocking confessions with statements such as 'the past is the past' or 'what's done is done' (Source: Anon ndc, np link).

His tactics include bringing up issues of proximity and exposure, impotence, gender identify, alcoholism, paternity, and contradictory testimony (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

[He] paints them as drunks and liars - leading to a heated, highly aggressive courtroom showdown (Source: samcall-914 (859) nd, np link).

On the witness stand, many of the plaintiffs are impeached. Despite initial claims of sterility and working conditions at the plantation allegedly exposing them to DBCP, they now negate their prior testimony (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

[Dole’s legal team thereby] succeeds in muddying the issue and raising an element of doubt (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

A great deal is … learned through watching the closing arguments of both Miller and McKnight, an aspect of the trial which I guarantee had an impact on the jury. Which way they were swayed is for you to decide for yourselves. What we also see, particularly if you pay close attention to the head count, is the jury verdict for each of the initial plaintiffs -  and as it is being read, attorney Dominguez' crestfallen look with each point read. This was not a win-win scenario for the Nicaraguan workers and attorney Dominguez. And clearly, the verdict wasn't only based on impeachment of witnesses as decisions came in for plaintiffs who had been impeached as well as for those that hadn't. Verdicts were found even with no damages (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

On November 5, 2007… Judge Victoria Chaney found Dole and Dow responsible for exposing six of the plaintiffs to DBCP.’ The jury awarded them $3.2 million in damages. The jury also determined that Dole acted with 'malice, fraud, and oppression.' On November 15, 2007, the jury awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages to five of the six plaintiffs (Source: Rosencranz & Roblin 2013, p.113-116).

The sad conclusion of this timely film is that the workers and their families to this day, have not been compensated even though the judgement in the US court was against the company (Source: Flavin 2013, no link).

[This was a] very complex jury trial to say the least. … [W]hat we … see through the camera is the good, the bad and the ugly of litigation; the ups and downs and what trial attorneys like Duane Miller … and Rick McKnight … face when the tables turn and your witnesses go south. And we see a company that by its own admission … chose to ignore well established scientific evidence (undoubtedly listening to bean counters as to what is more economical - losing crops or paying settlements and verdicts) and continue to use a toxin known to cause injury to humans. We see both sides of the litigation table and are given sufficient material to formulate our own opinions on the situation (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

Dole is clearly at fault in the case as documents link them to their insistence on using the banned chemical but the true objectiveness in the film is the way that the class action attorney Juan Dominguez is portrayed, he is not a white knight in search of truth, he is seen as manipulative, money obsessed and ultimately self absorbed. We also learn at the end of the film that he is being indicted for fraud as some of the workers he used to testify may have been sterile before ever working in the banana field and were found lying under oath. Rarely is a piece made in which both sides are so apparently caught for what they truly are (Source: Generoso F 2010, np link).

Like Joe Berlinger's CRUDE [see our page on Crude here], the film's smartly structured David vs Goliath narrative gives cause for hope, though the complicated developments around the film's exhibition threaten the reality of workersability to attain social justice (Source: Anon 2011e, np link).

[There are] court cases both in the film and around the film against its subjects and filmmaker, [so] BANANAS!* sharply demonstrates the power of corporations, often at the expense of their most modestly-paid employees, and the [lengths] that they may be willing to go to in order to avoid acknowledging any potential wrongdoing (Source: Anon 2009a, np link).

[But by] fil[ing] - and later dropp[ing] - a defamation lawsuit against Gertten … (Source: Sandhu 2010, np link).

… to stop [Bananas!*] from being released (Source: Amazon Customer 2011, np link).

… [Dole] turned his film into something of a[n international] cause célèbre in activist circles … (Source: Sandhu 2010, np link).

… since the summer of 2009 … (Source: Alioff 2011, np link).

… [which meant that t]he tale of Bananas!* [went], well, bananas (Source: IDA Editorial Staff 2009, np link).

Inspiration / Technique / Process / Methodology

[This class action suit is] about Nemagon, one of many brand names for Dibromochloropropane (DBCP), a pesticide originally synthesized in 1955. It was used extensively all over the world until 1977, when employees who had handled the chemical at the Occidental Chemical plant in California were found to be sterile. DBCP was used to protect many different crops: vegetables, nuts, fruits, beans and cotton. The target pest was nematodes, tiny worms living in the soil, feeding on the roots. The pesticide was either pumped directly into the ground, or sprayed into the air with irrigation guns. In the 1960s, Standard Fruit (now Dole), Del Monte and United Fruit (now Chiquita) began to use Nemagon massively on Central American, Caribbean and Philippine banana plantations, as well as on sugar, pineapple and cotton plantations. Various chemical companies manufactured the pesticide: the Occidental Corporation, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil. Together, Dow and Shell exported as much as 24 million pounds of Nemagon each year during the 1970s until 1977. From 1977-1979, DBCP registrations were suspended by the [US] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which stopped most applications except for use on pineapples in Hawaii ... In 1985, the EPA canceled all registrations. Even as early as 1961, an internal Shell report recommended using impermeable protective clothing to prevent contact with the skin, because the product could have undesirable consequences for human reproduction. DBCP interrupts the hormones that act as the body's 'chemical messengers'. This can increase cancer risk and affect the reproduction system. Studies in both animals and humans have found that DBCP can cause low sperm counts and infertility in men. Exposure to high levels have also shown to cause kidney and liver damage, as well as cancer of the lungs and the brain. In Nicaragua's banana-growing province of Chinandega, where activists estimate 16,500 people were harmed and more than 1,000 died from exposure, DBCP goes under the name 'Death's Dew' (Source: Ren Chemista 2013, np link).

There's a lot of scientific proof. The effects on women, children with birth defects, the cancers, the kidney problems, the skin diseases exist in reality in the banana producing countries. But to prove it in court is harder on an individual worker. Maybe the harm came from another pesticide used in the region, on cotton, sugercane. The region of Chinandega is ecological disaster zone, the ground water is poisened, it will take the fertile soil two hundred years to recover from all the spraying. Remember also that medical research very often are investments, and right now 95 per cent of the medical research in the world is directed towards problems in the North. Then imagine how much medical research is focused on effects of pesticides on female farm workers in the tropics. And without published medical science there's no chance to win in court (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link).

For decades, the U.S. judicial system has presided over a contest between Central American banana workers and the Dole Food Company and related entities. Lacking home country courts capable and willing to enable victims of corporate crimes to seek justice, some of these workers have tried to access U.S. courts. However, these foreign plaintiffs have typically been denied access through corporate defendants' invocation of forum non conveniens (FNC). FNC is a legal doctrine that gives a court the authority to reject a foreign plaintiffs case on grounds that there is a  more appropriate and convenient forum, namely the plaintiffs home nation's courts. While not devised for this purpose, in application this doctrine has immunized multinational corporations from accountability for their abuses committed abroad by effectively denying the victims their right to a remedy. In addition, the application of FNC by U.S. courts seems to violate multilateral treaties such as the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. In the late 1990s, several Latin American governments began drafting and enacting anti-FNC statutes to counter its effects. Nicaragua was among them. In 2000, its legislature passed Special Law 364 in response to political pressure coming from a movement of labor organizations, activists, and peasants. The movement represented former agricultural workers who labored on banana plantations directed by the corporate fruit giant, Standard Fruit (now Dole Food Company or Dole), in the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, plantation workers were exposed to the toxic pesticide dibromochloropropane (DBCP). … The movement, which emerged in the early 1990s, focused on changing Nicaraguan state policy as a means of attaining justice for DBCP-affected individuals. It fought for the passage of a law that would facilitate the trial of Dole and other companies in Nicaragua for their involvement in exposing laborers to DBCP and frustrate the corporate defendants' use of FNC in the United States. Of all the foreign plaintiffs denied access to U.S. courts under FNC, tens of thousands have been DBCP plaintiffs from around the world. The Nicaraguan legislature designed Special Law 364 to handle DBCP cases involving Nicaraguan citizens. In essence, the law makes Nicaragua courts more punitive than U.S. courts for corporations such as Dole (Source: Rosencranz & Roblin 2013, p.113-116).

Since 2002, Nicaraguan courts alone have issued judgments in 32 lawsuits in the total sum of $2.05 billion dollars against Dole and DBCP manufacturers.  Under Nicaraguan law, $100,000 is guaranteed to each plaintiff claiming and proving injury in the form of sterility, where they worked on a farm using DBCP.  In Miami, the Court has been asked to enforce a $98.5 million Nicaraguan judgment against Dole and Dow. Dole, a California based company, had earnings of $7.62 billion last year (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

[I]t is no longer in [Dole’s] best interest for its attorneys to assert FNC. Instead of Nicaraguan courts, Dole’s local courts in California have become the more 'convenient' forum for litigating claims brought by DBCP-affected individuals from Nicaragua. With the FNC legal tactic successfully neutralized by Special Law 364, the door opened for the first-ever DBCP trial enabling foreign plaintiffs to claim harm and seek damages in a lawsuit brought before an American court. The case was Tellez v. Dole Food Company. In 2004, individuals who worked on plantations in Nicaragua filed a lawsuit against Dole and Dow Chemical Company (Dow), the company that manufactured and sold DBCP to Dole. The foreign plaintiffs claimed they became sterile due to their exposure to the pesticide while working on Dole banana plantations in the 1970s (Source: Rosencranz & Roblin 2013, p.113).

[Tellez v. Dole was] viewed as a test of how well the U.S. legal system could respond to injuries inflicted abroad by U.S.-based multinational corporations (Source: Rosencranz & Roblin 2013, p.116).

BANANAS!* chronicles the story of the Tellez v. Dole Food Co. litigation as seen from the plaintiff' perspective through the eyes of plaintiffs' attorney Juan 'Accidentes' Dominguez. … The Tellez case … was heard in the Los Angeles Superior Court before the Honorable Victoria Chaney (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

[BANANAS!* director] Fredrik Gertten is … based in Malmö, Sweden (Source: Anon 2012a, np link).

[He] started WG-Film in 1994 together with documentary filmmaker Lasse Westman. During the initial years they lived of external projects, investing all company assets in technical equipment, cameras and editing tools. 'It's easier to get started nowadays, since equipment is so much cheaper. In most cases however, people make one or two films, then they get themselves a 'real' job.' Before venturing into filmmaking, [he] was a print journalist focusing on long, reflective articles from around the globe. An important aspect of his work can be traced back to those years - his fascination for 'the little man.' 'I'm interested in telling the story of a nation through one single person in the street. That is more rewarding than meeting kings and presidents. For me, one of the greatest tasks of the political documentary is to show 'the others'. To portray them as fellow human beings we can respect, and not just as victims' (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

[He] speaks fluent Spanish and worked as a journalist in Nicaragua in the 1980s and 1990s (Source: Anon 2012a, np link).

During this time he heard a great deal about plantation chemical usage and workers falling ill (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

Perhaps only a non-American documentarist would dare to be so frank in laying bare the inner workings of the U.S. justice system (Source: Mike M 2010, np link).

What amazed me most is the audacity of a company like Dole to use a pesticide that was known to cause sterility. I wanted to learn more (Source: Gertten in Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

So when litigation began popping up in the U.S. it seemed only natural from a journalistic and filmmaking standpoint to take a closer look and what better way than through film. As it so happens, attorney Dominguez became involved with potential plaintiffs relative to DBCP exposure and as happens with a good deal of attorneys, saw the pot of gold at the end of the trial rainbow and the potential for a class action lawsuit in the California State Court (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

[T]he proof is very clear. DOLE continued to use a banned pesticide and they admit it themselves in court. The letters between DOLE and Dow is enough for lawyers to get involved (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link)?

Juan Dominguez appears to be quite an unorthodox human rights lawyer (i.e. owns a Ferrari). The film is very explicit in showing that Juan is a lover of the 'good life.' How did you handle his portrayal in the film and what was your goal (Source: Carleton 2010, np link)?

'A great story without a great main character leaves you with a less than great film. It's as simple as that' [says Gertten]. The first attorney to bring a case in front of a US jury is Juan Dominguez, a Spanish speaking Cuban exile. In the film, Dominguez bridges the wide gap between the rich world and the poor workers, even though he was just a child when he arrived in the US. Juan is an Los Angeles based personal injury lawyer, specializing in automobile accidents and with a primarily Latino client base. The process against Dole is significantly larger than any case he's previously taken on. 'We looked up his (Dominguez) web page and it was almost too good to be true. We couldn't have written a better character ourselves …' (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

[He] is a very colorful man, I like that as a filmmaker. The audience needs to make up their mind if he's good or bad. Can a Ferrari-driving Castro-hating Cuban do good for the workers (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link)?

But Gertten also balances Dominguez's more messianic tendencies with the rigorous professionalism of partner Duane Miller, who soberly devotes himself to preparing a watertight accusation of causing sterility while Dominguez takes the plaudits from gatherings of expectant plantation workers in Chinandega (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

Duane Miller, Juan's partner in this venture, is his exact opposite. Miller may be a more talented trial lawyer and specializes in court cases dealing with toxins and chemical pollution of the environment, but his reluctance to appear in the film is obvious. He wanted to focus completely on the case (Source: Gertten in Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

Dole's defense attorney Rick McKnight … is in many ways the bad guy in the film, but he is also portrayed as proud, sharp and alert (Source: Gertten in Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

The CEO of DOLE David Delorenzo … (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link).

… was directly responsible on site in Nicaragua in the 70's and gave the order to keep using pesticides already banned in the US. 'And in comes this nice little man with a Nicaraguan wife' [says Gertten] (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

Can a man like that still be partly responsable for sufferings that haunts people 30 years later (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link)?

Gertten does not shy away from emphasizing certain character traits in the film with a facial expression, a sigh or a grin. At the same time he distances himself from what he calls 'reality show dramaturgy' to project set roles onto the people involved. 'My guideline is that the subjects should be able to recognize themselves …' This illustrates one of Gertten's convictions, not to create monsters on the screen. … 'Maybe[,' Gertten says, '] the film would have packed a bigger punch if I had painted everything black and white, but it is just that kind of complexity that fascinates me' (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

[T]he raw material for BANANAS!* consisted of 50 days of court hearings and 60-70 hours of other footage. First Danish editor Jesper Osmund and dramaturgy consultant Niels Pagh went through everything. Then a strategic meeting was held discussing a possible structure. How does the film open? How do we portray Juan? If the audience doesn't quite like him, will they still root for the plantation workers? 'US documentaries often begin with a really long cut. In the editing room they initially tend to have a version running several hours, and then they gradually trim it down to an acceptable length. Our method is instead to isolate potential scenes. First, situations with Juan through the entire narrative and next the Nicaraguan family, then Duane. We create several parallel threads that we spend two to three months working on, then we weave these together. This leaves us with an initial running time quite close to the final goal.' A lot of the drama is created in editing, but the research and filming sets the tone for the entire film (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

Gertten doesn't get bogged down in facts and figures but for that told through trial, testimony and evidence. … He lets the camera tell the story, letting it flow, and then using his editing tools to establish pacing and tension as he builds to the ultimate verdicts. There is a polish to the overall production with its many textural components of archival footage, courtroom footage and present day observations and background material (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

This films, Bananas, has entire secuences of my film Bananeras - done in 1984 to show the conditions of the workers - taken without my knowle or moral rigth, and they only give a small and unnoticable credit at the end. You can see my film in youtube (Source: Deshon 2011, np link).

Your film has played an important role in the history of this film. And in the court case as it was used as evidence in Los Angeles Superior Court. We have cleared the rights and payed for them. Frank Pineda who shot your film has also been working with mine. So once again thank you, hope to meet you in person next time I come to Nicaragua (Source: Gertten 2011, np link).

For Gertten, it is about knowing what he is after. Asking the right question, but also being in the right place at the right time. 'Sometimes you feel instinctively that a shot will end up in the final cut. I sat in the courtroom when Rick McKnight held his final argument. I had been in Nicaragua, I had met the affected workers and I was intensely provoked by his mocking banter. I wanted my audience to feel the same thing. The final arguments are followed by another scene that puts a sharp focus on our own part in this story. To celebrate, Juan sends an employee to buy some liquor and mixers, and he returns with a bag full of Dole juice. 'That scene is absolutely real, and it clearly shows how trained we are as consumers. If not even these people think about what juices they buy, what would it take for the rest of us to break the pattern?' … (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

The punctuation in the title of this decidedly fruity documentary suggests both incredulity and provisionality (Source: Mike M 2010, np link).

What's hidden under that pretty, yellow skin? What stories can be found? Rebeca Méndez is the designer of the visual identity for BANANAS!*, and in particular responsible for the asterisk behind the title (Source: Anon 2009b, np link). 

When I left advertising I was interested in applying [the] lessons of mass market messaging to non-profit or cultural organizations, where the motive is not monetary profit, but spreading a social awareness. ... Because non-profit agencies and many cultural institutions do not have big budgets to spend on marketing and advertising, you have to find this force within, so it will propel itself and do the work for you (Source: Méndez in Anon 2009b, np link). 

The original movie title BANANAS! had a two-fold edge; it means that bananas are the subject matter of the film, and the exclamation mark makes it into a widely known catch phrase used to exclaim indignity and disbelief about an absurd situation, as in: This mess is so bananas! We wanted to add a third dimension of awareness to the title that tells you there is more to find out about bananas. There is a footnote to its jolly image, this information that has been omitted, that once revealed will make you think twice about the food that we consume. The asterisk is our engine to activate a movement, and, in hindsight, it is perhaps also our saving grace. With the addition of an asterisk to the title we acquire this built-in force to expose the rotten state of affairs behind the delicious bananas (Source: Méndez in Anon 2009b, np link). 

By adding this universally understood typographic character we acquire a method to reveal unjust circumstances and affect behavior. It has the potential to become a tool to unmask unethical business practices in any industry. That's the idea and ambition (Source: Méndez 2009, np link).

With her husband Adam Eeuwens, ... Méndez developed the core brand identity for BANANAS!*, designing the logotype, its color palette, initial campaign ideas, and a set of brand guidelines. Then she handed the package to her Fall 2008 Visual Communication class of senior students at UCLA, and gave them the assignment to create a comprehensive communication strategy and design across all media for BANANAS!* 'The first step in the creative process is to immerse yourself in research on the subject matter, and the Internet holds a wealth of material, from old commercials with singing bananas on YouTube to Wikipedia facts on the origin of the term 'banana republic,' to Dole's own home page. You explore any lead to ignite the creative spark; to turn strategy into story. For a class course of ten weeks, the students did well, and a lot of their ideas had influence and even a few of their designs made it to the final cut. The BANANAS!* Twitter ticker on the front page on the website picks up on everyone using the word banana,'pesticides' and Nicaragua'in their twitter messages, and is an idea conceived and coded by one the students. And the bananas photos for the poster were made by a student who bought them fresh and photographed the rotting process for weeks until they were completely black and fluid. A lot of the student work followed the angle of the implications of pesticide use on the health of the consumers. One factoid we got from the Swedes was about chimpanzees in the zoo in Copenhagen who eat organic bananas skin and all, while they peel the bananas treated with pesticides. That fact alone changed awareness and a couple of habits in the class. It was interesting to notice that the students have a very keen understanding that everything in the world is connected, and immediately sense that what pesticide goes around at one point must come around. It is obscene to them that personal profit could be more important than the public good' (Source: Anon 2009b, np link).

Gertten points out that even though Dole obviously has an enormous responsibility for the lives of these people, our own attitudes are important as well. 'I … don't want to preach morality and BANANAS!* shouldn't leave the audience feeling guilty and depressed. Change does not come from despair, but from seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, that our actions actually matter' (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link).

The Nicaraguan worker's situation is by no means an isolated problem. During production of BANANAS!*, Gertten was contacted by several other Dole workers with similar stories, in regions as far apart as the Ivory Coast and the Philippines. 'The bananas we've been eating all these years look to have caused horrendous suffering for these people. To me it is very unsettling to find that out now. Who knows what chemicals are used on bananas today? Who knows if any consequences will be felt in 30 years? I want to highlight the moral dilemma - that the food we eat can have a high price tag for others' (Source: Säfström & Gertten nd, np link). 

Hopefully my audience will get inspirered and read more. Ask more questions about the fruit in their own corner shop (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link).

Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten's exploration of the case of Nicaraguan banana plantation workers against Dole generated headlines before its scheduled world premiere in competition at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival when Dole threatened to sue both Gertten and the LAFF for slander (Source: Anon 2009a, np link).

After the film was produced, but before it was released, the judge in the case ruled that the supposedly crusading lawyer may have participated in a fraud in which at least some of the workers weren't sterile at all and some hadn't even worked on the plantation (Source: Crumpley 2009b, np link).

Dole's lawyers are now trying to stop all screenings. And some publications, like the Los Angeles Business Journal, are backing them up (Source: Kennedy 2009, np link).

The Los Angeles Business Journal published a front-page article, ‘The Big Slip-Up’ [Hyland 2009], accusing the film-makers of failing to check their facts (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney ruled in late April that the attorney who serves as the centerpiece of the documentary, Los Angeles sole practitioner Juan Dominguez, was involved in a 'blatant extortion' of Dole. 'We wrote the filmmaker and said, 'You may not have known this when making the documentary, and we understand,'' said Scott Edelman, a partner at downtown L.A. firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP who represented Dole in the case. 'But you really need to rewrite your movie to reflect the facts.' … Gertten, who was traveling, initially said he would answer questions via e-mail. But when he saw the questions, he declined to answer them. … In a statement to the Business Journal, Dominguez denied any wrongdoing but wouldn't comment further, citing a gag order. Dole attorneys said there was no such order. A hearing is scheduled for June 17, when Chaney will decide whether Dominguez's alleged involvement in the fraud calls for monetary sanctions. She also said she would refer the lawyer to the State Bar of California for disciplinary action, and to federal prosecutors for investigation. Edward Lear, a Century City attorney who is not involved in the case but has experience representing attorneys accused of wrongdoing, said the process will take some time. It can take up to two years for the State Bar to complete an investigation of an attorney, Lear said, and could result in anything from Dominguez being exonerated all the way up to his disbarment (Source: Hyland 2009, np link).

After compiling [their own] evidence from witnesses and investigators, the Dole attorneys raised concerns in September that Dominguez and a lawyer who worked at his Nicaraguan law firm appeared to be recruiting thousands of men who had never worked on banana plantations, teaching them details of being a banana worker, and falsifying lab reports to show the men were sterile. 'It's pretty astounding,' Edelman said. 'Lawyers were training plaintiffs how to lie, giving them instruction manuals so that they could memorize facts, and obtaining phony labs reports of their sterility.' Before the next two cases went to trial, Chaney held a three-day hearing in which she viewed Dole's evidence. After that, she ruled that the stories told by all the plaintiffs in Nicaragua were fraudulent, including the story told in the first trial, which she refers to as the Tellez matter. 'Based on what I have seen here, had I known anything about that then, I would have taken different actions,' Chaney said in the ruling she issued in late April. 'And, that the fraud that I have seen here has also contaminated each and every one of the plaintiffs in the Tellez matter.' Dole had already appealed the Tellez case. In late May, the company asked a state court of appeal to send the case back to Chaney in light of the fraudulent activity. 'Judge Chaney indicated in her order that she now believes that the Tellez case is totally fraudulent,' said Dole attorney Edelman (Source: Hyland 2009, np link).

However, Chaney's ruling said the fraudulent activity only applies to Nicaraguan plaintiffs. That means Dole still has to battle other cases currently pending in Los Angeles Superior Court. Those cases have been brought on behalf of more than 3,600 plaintiffs, including 1,465 from Honduras, 1,533 from Costa Rica, and 661 from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. However, Edelman said Chaney's ruling will be helpful in Dole's defense of those cases. 'The fact that the lawyers in Nicaragua had to do what they needed to do to come up with fake evidence, fake plaintiffs, fake work certificates, and fake lab reports to show that they were sterile does have application in other countries,' Edelman said. 'It shows the length to which it's necessary to go to try to develop these claims' (Source: Hyland 2009, np link).

The story of Dole, Dominguez and the documentary doesn't stop here. One filmmaker suggests that Gertten could add a postscript to 'Bananas!' 'He is in a tough spot because he's been fooled, too,' said Fernanda Rossi, a New York-based filmmaker and documentary consultant who has been involved in more than 300 films. 'The filmmaker can expand the story and say, 'Even though we have been fooled, we can make a story about this new development.' This is phenomenal story material.' Dole's attorney suggests that the company expects more extensive revisions. 'I think he is obligated to rewrite his movie,' Edelman said. 'From the trailer, it's completely inaccurate and defamatory. It paints Dominguez as a hero fighting for the impoverished against a big bad corporation, and in fact he was exploiting them' (Source: Hyland 2009, np link).

An attorney representing Gertten could not immediately be reached for comment. In a July 1 letter posted on a website promoting the film, Gertten described Dole's demands as 'blatant intimidation' and said the company, 'attacked the film without seeing it’ (Source: Keating 2009a, np link).

No one, bar the Los Angeles Film Festival and the filmmaker, has actually seen the film (Source: Kennedy 2009, np link).

[And neither had the Los Angeles Business Journal] reporter …, nor had she spoken to the film-makers before writing her story (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

Attorney Richard Lee, who represents defendant WG Film AB, said he and his client [Gertten] found the complaint 'to be without merit' and an attempt at prior restraint. 'Dole is attempting to keep a part of the long story of misuse of pesticides by multinational corporations from being told,' Lee said. 'We will respond appropriately in court' (Source: Keating 2009b, np).

[And] Bananas!* co-producer Bart Simpson contacted the IDA [International Documentary Association] saying that … that Judge Chaney's actual statement can be found in court documents posted on the movie's website … [She wrote] 'I don't have any opinion as to whether or not there was any wrongdoing by any of the defendants. We'll never know … We'll never know if anybody in Nicaragua was actually injured or harmed by the alleged wrongful conduct of the defendants, and people will never have the opportunity to learn, since this fraud is so pervasive and extensive that it has forever contaminated even our own ability to ever know the truth' (Source: IDA Editorial Staff 2009, np link).

Gertten’s film had been completed for months prior to [these] developments and was accepted by the [Los Angeles] film festival for screening (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

[It had been] accepted into competition … at the … Festival where the winning documentary takes home a $50,000 prize. The screening was to be 'Bananas!*' world premiere (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

On May 8, Dole sent letters to the festival's major sponsors, including The Times, denouncing what Dole called the 'false and defamatory accusations' made by the film. The company asked the sponsors for 'your assistance in preventing the Festival's complicity in this travesty,' but did not elaborate in its letter as to what this might mean. 'We're not asking any judge to prevent this film from being shown,' Edelman said. 'We're just saying, Hey, you got the facts wrong, grossly wrong. And it's unfair to Dole to show this film' (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

On May 8, the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who represented Dole in court, attempted to get Judge Chaney to stop the film from being screened at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. The Judge stated to those present: 'Just so we are clear, I am not in any way going to make, and I will not consider, any request for prior restraint on free speech. Okay? So, don't ask me to go try and contact the film company. I don't have jurisdiction over them. But even if I did, don t ask me for it.' As they were unsuccessful with Judge Chaney, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP sent us a letter demanding we 'cease and desist' from plans to screen the film at the Festival. The first such letter sent to us, on May 8 of this year, was copied to all the corporate sponsors of the LA Film Festival, but was not copied to the LA Film Festival itself. A copy of this letter and related letters are on our website under the 'Resources' section. Dole's team is now moving on to yet another strategy and have contacted the Swedish Consulate in LA and the Swedish Ambassador to the US in Washington, asking them to help stop the film (Source: Fredrik Gertten, Margarete Jangård, Lise-Lens Moller & Bart Simpson in IDA Editorial Staff 2009, np link).

To date [Dole] have only succeeded in getting the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) to pull out of 'co-hosting' the film's opening night at the Festival. However, a lawyer from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher serves on the board of directors of the LAFLA. Again, all this is without Dole or Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher having actually seen the film. Out of respect to the LA Film Festival, we did not publicize any of these actions until now. However with days to go before our premiere, we are spreading the word. We are considering all our options given Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's actions. As we move forward, we hope you as our allies in the international documentary community will throw your support behind us. Dole and their counsel's interference with us, [our funders], the Festival, and their sponsors represent a serious threat to independent documentary production (Source: Fredrik Gertten, Margarete Jangård, Lise-Lens Moller & Bart Simpson in IDA Editorial Staff 2009, np link).

Due to pressure from the Dole Food Company, [Bananas!*] was pulled from competition [at LAFF] … but still included in the Fest as a special screening.  A last minute decision… also pulled the film from eligibility for the all important Audience Award (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

[Gertten and his team explained on their film’s website that] Between the film's completion and its screening at this year's Festival, critical new elements of the case have come to light. What happens when a story continues to evolve after the shooting stops? This case study and screening will explore the relationship between documentary filmmaking, objective and subjective point of view, as well as the rights and responsibilities of activist filmmaking (Source: Fredrik Gertten, Margarete Jangård, Lise-Lens Moller & Bart Simpson in IDA Editorial Staff 2009, np link).

But Dole assert[ed] that no amount of 'contextualizing' or disclaimers - including a brief postscript to the trial that Gertten recently added to the end of his movie - would be sufficient to offset what the company contends are the gross factual distortions that were put forward by the plaintiffs in court. 'It's a phony, fraudulent story that was made up in one of the worst frauds that I've ever seen in a court in 25 years of practice,' [Dole Lawyer Scott] Edelman said. 'Our position is, even if the filmmaker didn't know this at the outset, he knows it now and the film should not be screened. It needs to be entirely rewritten to reflect the facts' (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

Edelman said he had not yet seen the film because neither Gertten nor the festival had agreed to show it to him. The filmmaker and festival organizers said they had invited Dole representatives to attend Saturday night's screening. 'We've invited them in various ways, and if something's not accurate [about the film] they ought to tell us,' said Michael Donaldson, a lawyer representing the festival and its parent organization, Film Independent (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

Gertten believes that his movie, which essentially ends in the fall of 2007, has a valid story to tell, even as that story continues to evolve. 'I have to tell the story as I saw it, and that's what I do, and that story ends at that moment,' he said (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

The case [against Dominguez] is not yet settled. [He] and the Nicaraguans he represents have all denied any wrongdoing and are continuing to press their case in court (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

As those of you who have done courtroom documentaries can attest, court cases can keep developing years after the verdict. Regardless of the final outcome, the film is an accurate representation of the case over a period of time, and our broadcasters and all our other partners support the film 100% (Source: Fredrik Gertten, Margarete Jangård, Lise-Lens Moller & Bart Simpson in IDA Editorial Staff 2009, np link).

A simmering controversy at this year's Los Angeles Film Festival has torn at the community here, dividing filmmakers, frustrating festival staff, and frightening festival sponsors. Questions of filmmaking ethics are being debated day and night against the backdrop of potential lawsuits from one of America's biggest corporations (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

[W]hile it's creepy to see a non-profit arts organization under legal threats from a multi-billion dollar corporation, it's pretty easy to understand everyone's motivations and actions here: the corporation wants to protect their image and the festival has to navigate their commitment to the film and their desire to not be sued into oblivion (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

[LAFF director Rebecca Yeldham said:] 'We feel that, responsibly, we need to be able to present that movie to our audiences' … The filmmaker, she said, had acted in 'good faith' in making the movie. 'This is the filmmaker's point of view. It's not ours,' Yeldham said. 'We do not program only movies that reflect our subjectivity' (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

Dole went to court to file an injunction to stop the film from being shown. The judge threw it out, saying that she 'will not consider any request for prior restraint on free speech' (Source: larry-411 2009, np link).

[But, w]hen the film was finally aired, stripped of advertising and tucked away in a smaller screening room … (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

… [with] a full house … (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

… [each handed a] lengthy disclaimer … as they entered … [which] had to be read aloud to the audience prior to the screening … [as] agree[d] between Film Independent (sponsors of the Los Angeles Film Festival) and Dole (Source: larry-411 2009, np link).

Anxious about their reputation [LAFF] sided with Dole's story, claiming that, 'Serious questions have been raised about [the doc's] credibility' (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

[Bananas!*] was screened as a case study, says the fest, 'to illuminate a timely exploration of what makes (and doesn't make) a responsible documentary' (Source: Anon 2009bi, np).

Director Fredrik Gertten immediately declared in his impassioned introduction to the screening that he did not endorse the statement of the Festival. This elicited a huge cheer from the audience, even though nobody had yet seen the film (Source: larry-411 2009, np link).

[F]ollowing each screening [there was] a panel discussion, interestingly moderated by the festival's lawyer. The reaction among the community of filmmakers, however, has been more difficult to pick apart. Many filmmakers here have stated that since the judge found that fraud was committed, that the story 'Bananas!*' tells is compromised. They take Judge Chaney's ruling as a touch of truth. These filmmakers have been openly - even in the panel discussion immediately following the film's premier - encouraging the filmmaker to revisit the film 'to better reflect the truth.' The moderator asked Gertten 'how did you feel when you saw Juan Dominguez acting inappropriately?' … When the lights went up the conversation began with the participants implicitly accepting the truth behind the new ruling from the judge, and asking Gertten how he would deal with his presumably tainted film (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

It would have been hard to imagine a better post-screening discussion, from Dole's point of view – no one even mentioned the pesticide. I was bewildered, and left wondering if the group was falling into a trap: reading the Ferrari-driving lawyer who has his face on billboards as a sleazy stereotype - a mercenary trial lawyer at best and fraudulent Latino hustler at worst. One way or another, many participants were more willing to assume that Judge Chaney (and Dole) had found real fraud, than to assume that Juan Dominguez and filmmaker Gertten had found the real truth (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

[Dole then sought] a preliminary injunction barring Fredrik Gertten from showing the film in public again. It accuse[d] him of 'actual malice' for ignoring a court ruling that the case on which the film was based had been part of a massive extortion plot against Dole by attorney Juan J. Dominguez, the star of the film (Source: Deutsch 2009, np link).

Dole Food Co. filed a defamation lawsuit … against [Gertten for] … knowingly including 'patent falsehoods' … Dole said it repeatedly 'implored' director and producer Margarete Jangard to revise the film 'Bananas!*' to show the bananeros' lawsuits against Dole were thrown out in April by a Los Angeles judge who found a 'pervasive conspiracy' to defraud U.S. courts by plaintiffs attorneys and Nicaraguan judges. Gertten 'refused to make any meaningful changes to the film and persisted in publicly screening it and touting its accuracy in the face of court rulings that the story was false ...,' said the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. 'To screen, promote, and profit from this film, despite the fact that its entire premise has been (judged) a fraud on Dole and California's courts, is the epitome of reckless and irresponsible conduct' … (Source: Keating 2009a link).

… Dole attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. wrote in the suit. 'It cannot possibly be justified or defended. It must stop’ (Source: Gensler 2009, np).

While 'Bananas!' was already sold to European TV, further U.S. fest screenings and TV berths are under legal review because of the defamation lawsuit (Source: Anon 2009c, np).

[So t]he film[’s] distribution was suspended throughout the legal proceedings, i.e. for almost a year (Source: Anon ndc, np link).

[This] damaged the credibility of the film, since reports of the suit were far more prominent than accounts of the suit's collapse (Source: Koeppel 2011, np link).

Dole also sent a letter to the Swedish ambassador Jonas Hafström in Washington, asking him to take 'appropriate steps to limit its damaging impact, including urging the filmmakers, WG Film AB and Mr Gertten to act responsibly and halt dissemination of this film in the United States of America and Europe (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

Dole executive vice-president Michael Carter told a Swedish newspaper, ‘let [Gertten] fight. He will definitely lose’ (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

Dole wrote to members of the Swedish parliament warning them against the ‘false, defamatory and irresponsible’ film (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

Swedish reaction was strong and media coverage was extensive (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

Gertten notes that Dole is going after 'some small Swedes' and worries that the incident might dampen film festival support of docs (Source: Anon 2009c, np).

[Dole’s response to the film] started an immense fuzz in Sweden (Source: stensson 2009, np link).

After the lawsuit was filed, … [Swedish] burger chain Max … stopped selling Dole fruit salad (Source: Tse 2020, np link).

MAX CEO Richard Bergfors stated in the Swedish news; ‘We dont’ like Dole’s actions. Suing a filmmaker instead of having a dialogues is despicable […]. I think Dole risks losing more customers on account of their misguided actions. In Sweden we believe in open dialogue and debate. Everyone can make mistakes, but then you have to admit it’ (Source: Carrol & Buchholtz 2015, p.621).

Swedish food chain ICA - a Dole customer - held a meeting with the company saying it felt the filmmaker had the right to express his side of the story. 'We met their European division and ... put forward our view on the matter,' ICA's fruit and vegetables chief Lars Astrom told The Associated Press. 'We said we thought they should withdraw the lawsuit and asked them to get back to us …’ (Source: Anon 2009d, np link).

Suddenly [Dole] found itself in the middle of another unfavourable story. This time, the plot was about a small independent Scandinavian film company that was going to be silenced by a powerful U.S. corporation. Especially in Europe - a premium market for Dole products - the company’s image had reached the bottom and economic consequences would soon follow (Source: Carrol & Buchholtz 2015, p.621).

A [Swedish] parliamentary showing of the film was packed out … (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

.. [and a]fterwards, Swedish MPs Mats Johansson and Luciano Astudillo … (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

… one Social Democrat, one Conservative - wr[o]te to … Dole (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

Their unusually frank letter reflects Swedish public opinion at that stage: 'It seems clear to us that you are misled by your PR-firm on how to influence Swedish opinion, with a poor understanding of our tradition of free speech during more than two hundred years. As the saying goes: all business is local. We strongly recommend a change of bureau and tactics, if you are at all interested in the Swedish market. But first and most we urge you - in the name of free speech - to withdraw your lawsuit against Mr Gertten.’ MPs signed a cross-party petition urging Dole to withdraw their legal action in the name of free speech, and they were joined in these demands by the CEOs of leading food chains (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208)

The media's response to Dole's efforts was [equally] robust (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

Gertten … who serve[d] as the Swedish representative for the European Documentary Network … called on the international documentary community to back him up (Source: Kennedy 2009, np link).

Filmmakers launched a petition for free speech during the Los Angeles film festival. The CEO of the German Documentary Film Association wrote a letter demanding that Dole cease its 'attacks on the freedom of information as well as stop your company's inhuman practices in Latin America which the film 'Bananas' criticizes’ (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

'If this is the future for documentary film' - that big companies learn it works to send bullying letters - 'it is not good for documentary filmmakers or film festivals’, [said Gertten] (Source: Anon 2009c, np).

[T]he International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents more than 600,000 journalists in 123 countries, [also] condemned the lawsuit … (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

… [arguing that] the use of the law to evade media scrutiny and public accountability as an unforgiveable violation of free speech (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

The action was sufficient to make Dole withdraw its legal action in October 2009. It stated that it made its decision in view of the free speech concerns being expressed in Sweden, although it continued to believe in the merits of its case (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

A statement from Dole said: 'Dole has withdrawn its lawsuit against the film-makers and the film-makers have withdrawn their counterclaim. Dole will defend its case but cannot comment further on an ongoing legal process' (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

The filmmakers withdrew their counter-claim but demanded that their legal fees be reimbursed. However, the threat that Dole would reinstitute the action hampered the distribution of the film (Source: Bingham & Monforton 2013, p.208).

In 2010, a year after [Dole] filed the legal action, the suit was dismissed. The judge in the case determined that Dole's case was frivolous and constituted harassment against Gertten. The banana company was forced to pay Gertten's legal fees of nearly $200,000 (Source: Koeppel 2011, np link).

Superior Court Judge Ralph W. Dau found … that the U.S. food giant was trying to stifle Gertten's right to free speech and ordered the company to pay his legal fees and costs. ... Gertten said in a statement that 'corporations such as Dole must respect freedom of speech and the freedom of press.' While conglomerates have unlimited resources, he said, independent filmmakers 'have very limited means to defend ourselves' (Source: Deutsch 2011, np).

'I'm very happy. It's a huge relief for us after having such a huge weight on our shoulders and cool that a judge has thrown out the case. It also shows people and other filmmakers that big companies cannot get away with suing them to try to silence them,' Gertten told The Local on Monday. … In addition to the financial penalty, Dole is prevented from suing Gertten, Jangard and WG Film again in the future. 'They have contacted me a few times before to ask me to agree to some ridiculous terms, which I refused,' said Gertten. The ruling clears the way for companies and broadcasters to screen the film with no legal worries, Gertten said. Oscilloscope Laboratories, helmed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, holds the theatrical and distribution rights to the film in the US (Source: Tse 2020, np link).

Meanwhile, as the banana company likely hoped, interest in what the film chronicled might have gone stale. That these things didn't happen isn't a matter of luck. BANANAS!* is that powerful. That's because the genuine story of the film - the brutal treatment banana workers and their families were subjected to - is real and riveting. By showing how the fight for justice continues today - not just in courtrooms, but in the bananalands of Central America where little has changed - the film shows an ultimate truth and an ultimate victory (Source: Koeppel 2011, np link).

The controversy … naturally raised Bananas!'s profile in Sweden, where audiences will be allowed this Friday to judge for themselves on the quality of the documentary film. … Bananas! … is being released on 25 Swedish cinemas this Friday by November Film (Source: Super Admin 2009, np link).

[I]nternational festivals are lining up invitations (Source: Super Admin 2009, np link).

[Bananas!* could be]promoted as ‘The film Dole Food Co. doesn’t want you to see’ (Source: Carrol & Buchholtz 2015, p.621).

A distribution deal for the US and Canada is also in negotiation, according to sales rep Peter Jäger … (Source: Super Admin 2009, np link).

… managing director of Vienna-based sales agent Autlook Filmsales (Source: Vlessing 2010, np link).

In other territories, theatrical distributors are waiting to see how Swedish audiences will react. For [Bananas!*] producer [Margarete] Jangård, all European broadcasters who pre-bought the film (including Arte, ZDF, SVT) have decided to screen it simultaneously - probably next Spring - to make a bigger impact. The most enthusiastic response has been from film festivals 'despite and thanks to the controversy,' says Jäger (Source: Super Admin 2009, np link).

[Peter Jäger] said [the] theatrical release of … 'Bananas!' … was a fluke. … [H]e envisioned a strong festival run and broadcast sales for the film … [which would] then a go on VOD. … ‘[But] they (Dole) were stupid enough to take the case up, which gave our film much-needed publicity,' Yager recalls, and [this] in turn opened up the potential for a theatrical release after it bowed at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2009 over Dole's objections. Theatrical distributors became immediately interested in ''Bananas!' (Source: Vlessing 2010, np link).

Dole's public reaction … increased the film's profile. 'Because of this, we've attracted distribution interest in the U.K., and the U.S. is interested in a possible theatrical release,' says [co-producer Bart] Simpson ... The filmmakers have also pre-sold broadcast rights in several markets worldwide - except Canada, where a CBC representative said the network's audiences don't like subtitles (Source: Reid 2009, np).

It was met by acclaim when it was screened at the Berlin Film Festival this year, and now it has reached London (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

[It] had its first UK screening at Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in central London last night and will run until 25 April (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

It is a huge victory to screen at [London’s] ICA since there was a moment when we didn't know if the film ever would be seen (Source: Gertten in Akbar 2010, np link).

With a lawsuit hanging over it, distribution in the United States became almost impossible (Source: Koeppel 2011, np link).

Finally, in late 2010 a U.S. court rule[d] that the movie could be screened legally in the United States (Source: Carrol & Buchholtz 2015, p.621).

At first, 'Dole withdrew without prejudice,' Gertten points out, 'meaning they could sue again,' and naturally, the threat of legal harassment frightened American distributors and broadcasters … Last November, the situation changed when Gertten's company, WG Film, was granted an anti-SLAPP motion it had filed against Dole in Los Angeles. Not only does the motion stop the fruit company from using the courts to block Gertten's movie, Dole must also cover the filmmaker's attorneys' fees and costs (Source: Alioff 2011, np link).

Bananas!* finally g[ot] its official US premiere, in New York, 8 May, 2011 (Source: Lindvall 2011, np link).

The NYC based distributor Oscilloscope, founded by Adam Yauch from The Beastie Boys, has now released BANANAS!* in the US (Source: Anon 2009b, np link).

Oscilloscope … are releasing the DVD next week (Source: Anon 2009a, np link).

[I]t appeared as if the film-maker would be beaten … [but Bananas!*] became a sensation around the world (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

Even though Dole backed off from this lawsuit in the aftermath of protests by everyone from international documentary filmmakers to the Swedish parliament, Gertten and his colleagues are still reeling from the impact of the attack, both financially and creatively. When not consulting with his lawyer, Gertten has been navigating tricky insurance issues and engaging in other less than creative endeavours. 'We are a small business,' he told me, and apart from other costs, 'we also have to put a price tag on our own work. When you spend so much time in defending yourself, you don't have energy to do other films. That's risky. Who pays my salary? Who pays for my kidsclothes?' … (Source: Alioff 2011, np link).

Michael Carter, Dole's executive vice-president and general counsel, was last October quoted as saying: 'While the film-makers continue to show a film that is fundamentally flawed and contains many false statements, we look forward to an open discussion with the film-makers regarding the content of the film' (Source: Akbar 2010, np link).

[A]s with all good documentaries, it raises questions - and not just about the legal turmoil - but about corporate responsibility, ethics and human rights (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

Discussion / Responses

Exciting (Source: Anon nde, np link)!

[A]n amazing story (Source: Amazon Customer 2011, np link).

Enjoyable Puff (Source: cheryll 2014, np link).

Worst Documentary Ever (Source: tallard 2010, np link).

Dole tried to stop the movie and is made into the big ugly wolf in the movie. [So] I bought it (Source: Hans T 2020, np link).

Watch this film before you eat your next Banana (Source: CHUI 2013, np link)!!!

You will never buy Dole Bananas again! The more you know the better off you will be (Source: CJ 2015, np link).

I gotta admit [the DVD] sat on my shelf a bit before I watched it. The title 'Bananas' isn't intriguing. But the movie itself is well done (Source: Wojahn 2013, np link). 

I asked for this documentary by mistake, I thought I was requesting the Woody Allen film of the same name. … I consider [it] … well done, but unfortunately to me the subject was not of special interest (Source: Amazon Customer 2018, np link).

This is OK for legal thriller, a bit less for the documentary. At the end of the day, the kids liked it, they found it an interesting story and the main message went through (Source: sono-babbo-natale 2014, np link).

[It’s a] well made, excitingly paced drama (Source: cheryll 2014, np link).

I was at the edge of my seat, dying to see how the law suit was going to end. Well shot, well edited, and with judicious use of archives and court room footage, this is a really important film (Source: Isacsson 2009, np link).

[It] is thoroughly researched and presented the true lives and circumstances of Banana workers in third world countries such as Nicaragua, Honduras, Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, Philippines and Africa (Source: Cardona 2012, np link).

[T]his kind of stuff happens more that we think it does (Source: Amazon Customer 2014, np link).

[W]e need more DVD's like this that bring the truth to the world about how their food is really produced, well done film makers (Source: Desmond 2011, np link).

This movie should be seen by every human on the planet … (Source: CHUI 2013, np link).

… not because it is a good film, but because I feel everyone needs to watch it. Everyone needs to know how large American companies like Dole abuse their power in other countries, greatly affecting the locals, and how they always get away with it (Source: Billy T 2010, np link).

This is one movie will make you mad (Source: Thompson 2012, np link)!

The film is enraging (Source: Billy T 2010, np link).

It's effective, merciless and quite exciting (Source: stensson 2009, np link).

Give it to anyone fighting for the little man; watch it with something nearby to punch (Source: Gotami 2013, np link).

[It’s a v]ery interesting (and terrifying) film (Source: Dalhuijsen 2011, np link).

[B]oth infuriating and inspirational (Source: shannon J 2010, np link).

An entertaining and quite intelligent film, that stimulates mind and soul (Source: Anon nde, np link).

Another one of those needed Eye-openers (Source; Cheryl T 2012, np link)!

I have no respect for Dow Chemicals nor Dole after watching this movie (Source: Thompson 2012, np link)!

[N]othing Dole could say now except accepting responsibility and making life easier for its workers could make me support Dole now or in the future (Source: Thompson 2012, np link)!

Fuck Dole (Source: isle54 Studio 2018, np link).

Down with Dole (Source: Goldtooth 2013, np link).

Boycott Dole (Source: Auroara 2014, np link).

I'm never eating dole's bananas ever again! :( (Source: melissa 2011, np link).

I will NEVER buy Dole 'anything' again! Corporate MONSTERS (Source: Metzger 2014, np link).

Go Chiquita (Source: Billy T 2010, np link).

I was touched by the issue but not impressed by the documentary (Source: Yann L nd, np link).
 
[This is a] very long and cheaply-made film … (Source: Amélie B 2010 np, link).

… [that’s] sloppily put together [and] … lacks a central thesis (Source: Muir, Ide, Hayles & Charity 2010, np). 

[It’s] a noble endeavor (Source: cheryll 2014, np link).

… [with] noble intentions (Source: Muir, Ide, Hayles & Charity 2010, np). 
 
… [that] is … interesting enough … (Source: Ericson nd, np link).

…  [but] I felt the entire camera work really lacked taste … (Source: Amélie B 2010 np, link).

… [and l]ess closed caption, or translation, would have made it more enjoyable (Source: Richard N. 2014, np link).

[It wasn’t] particularly innovative in its presentation of the facts or in profiling the main protagonists (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

… [because] its by-the-numbers narrative structure and distinctive made-for-TV feel render it less effective and less involving than it should be (Source: Ericson nd, np link).

[E]ven those of us in the anti-corporate camp might conclude that while there is a case to be made against Dole, it's not this one, as assembled by these people (Source: Mike M 2010, np link).

[I]t does not show enough of the workers (Source: Billy T 2010, np link).

[It makes a] connection to our everyday lives … conceivable, … [but it] draws no explicit connections … [and] doesn't offer possible solutions (Source: Anon nde, np link).

[It] encourages viewers to stand up for their rights and arouses a sense of responsibility towards ourselves and towards others as well as sympathy with the victims. The inspiring effect however is quite small (Source: Anon nde, np link).

[I w]ould of loved to see a main person telling the story (in the way of a documentary) and they could of shown us actual footage from the plantations from the 1970s, which would of made it more real to our eyes and more touching. Too bad this was one big boring case, with lots of boring footage. Ended up shutting it off throughout (Source: Amélie B 2010 np, link).

[T]hey might have wanted to avoid legal challenges by Dole (Source: sono-babbo-natale 2014, np link).

If you're going to do a 'David & Goliath' story, make sure David is a stand up guy (Source: Scott C 2010, np link).

[This film] keeps your interest the whole way ... until you find out (not a spoiler, this is all over the internet) that the lawyer prosecuting the suit has been charged with fraud (Source: Daniel P 2010, np link).

It's impossible to watch [this film] without its content being tainted by the fact that … [Dominguez] was accused … of participating in a broad conspiracy built on phoney claims (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

We see Dominguez coaching the plaintiffs on how to appear sympathetic to a jury (Source: Debruge 2009, np link).

Maybe the labourers don't speak enough English, or they don't remember, or maybe, they changed their stories trying to get a big award to take back to their communities. In any case, this was a feel-good story that unfortunately, doesn't make me feel good anymore (Source: Daniel P 2010, np link).

[A]s the verdict in Tellez vs Dole is now under fresh scrutiny, it seems a little disingenuous to be releasing this film (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

[T]he story it purports to tell can no longer be taken at face value (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

[The film] raises unusually pointed questions about exploitation and responsibility, both on the part of the lawyers prepared to win a case by any means, and of filmmakers prepared to use one sterility case as a means to an end (Source: Mike M 2010, np link).

[This] is a one-sided white wash of the case … (Source: cheryll 2014, np link).

[It’s a b]iased … waste of my time on netflix. I hope [Dole] sue the Filmmakers even more and anyone else having to do with it (Source: López 2013, np link).

Dole spent considerable time, money, and energy trying to silence this Swedish documentary … Ultimately these efforts, viewed by many as an attack on free speech, proved a public relations disaster and Dole ceased trying to muzzle the film. Like many journalists who have watched the film and were puzzled by Dole's antagonism, I too feel they overreacted. This film, while provocative, does a commendable job of representing the facts and events in a way that provides ample voice to both sides (Source: Rabiner 2011, np link).

Even though the filmmakers clearly present the case from the point of view of the banana workers, Dole and its lawyers do not come across as the bad guys to the extent that one would expect (Source: Ericson nd, np link).

[E]ven without interviews featuring Dole's side of the story, 'Bananas!*' is quite balanced, airing the opening and closing arguments of both sides (Source: Debruge 2009, np link).

Even if …  the attorney faked the evidence …, I have little doubt that the issue was real (Source: Yann L nd, np link).

Is it not just possible that at least some, if not all, of  the events in the film are true (Source: Elias 2019, np link)?

There seems little doubt that the Standard Fruit Company chose to ignore industrial advice back in the 1970s, but it appears it will be much harder to prove conclusively the claims of the San Pablo and Candelaria workforces that DBCP was solely responsible for the sterility, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects that have subsequently afflicted them (Source: Parky at the pictures 2010, np link).

So some plaintiffs did not volunteer the size of their testicles and their erection problems, so what? Can anyone prove it was NOT the fertilizer (Source: abbyjo 2012, np link)?

[And, i]f these chemicals can cause injury to the workers, how much residue remains in the food itself when it hits our grocery stores and dinner tables (Source: Elias 2019, np link)?

[W]hat harm is it causing to the world population who eat these fruits (Source: Elias 2019, np link)?

And if Dole has nothing to hide and is so certain the film contains falsehoods, do they not have enough faith in the public to ascertain for themselves what is fact and what is fiction (Source: Elias 2019, np link)?

[T]he larger question is not whether or not the farm workers were telling the truth - but to what extent does a documentary filmmaker have a responsibility to ensure the veracity of his subjects? Is it even required? Or is simply telling the story itself worthy of documenting? There is no question that the workers' stories are moving and poignant, nor that some did tell the truth, according to the judge who made the decision that fraud had been committed (which actually emerged out of a later case). There is no denying that Dole used the chemical in question - their own President and CEO admitted as much in court … The deplorable working conditions the men endured are vividly captured by Gertten. And the allegations made against Dole by the plaintiffs are truly frightening. But this Erin Brockovitch / David vs. Goliath tale is rife with issues surrounding the burden of proof. Is it the job of a documentarian to tell the truth? Or to simply observe (Source: larry-411 2009, np link)?

Is [the film] objective? No, according to old documentary traditions, it isn't. It's part of a debate and if you're against that, you really have to explain your views on democracy (Source: stensson 2009, np link).

[Why don’t Dole] counter [Bananas!*] with their own film setting forth their position (Source: Elias 2019, np link)[?]

These are questions that should be raised and that moviegoers should be allowed to ask for themselves (Source: Elias 2019, np link).

What's next for human rights cases such as this (Alien Tort Claims) and do you think precedents will be set for corporate accountability? Are there other alternatives; legal or otherwise (Source: Carleton 2010, np link)?

In a better world crimes against workers should be treated the same way as human rights and war crimes. UN or other international bodies should represent the workers in the legal battles. First because there would be no private profit dreams involved, second because it's almost impossible for a small law firm like Juan Dominguez to beat DOLE in the long run. They are too rich, too mighty (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link

There are some who are critical of corporate accountability being a narrow monetary reimbursement (Source: Carleton 2010, np link)?

The critics are probably right, but sometimes it's still better for the workers with companies that at least tries to be better. Who admits free trade unions (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link).

What do the workers on the plantations want and how are they working towards it (Source: Carleton 2010, np link)?

I cannot speak for the workers. My advice is that you talk to the unions in your country that internationally works with the banana workers unions. Check out www.bananalink.org.uk (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link).

Perhaps only a non-American documentarist would dare to be so frank (Source: Mike M 2010, np link).

Talking to Swedish journalists at a screening of the film I recently attended, Gertten remarked that one of the most frightening things of all this was experiencing the fear of many American journalists he had talked to - a fear he attributed to the lack of legally protected job security. Often these journalists had basically agreed with the filmmakers' side of the story privately but still gone on to publish articles accepting the Dole point of view. Ultimately this case once more demonstrates that genuine freedom of speech, and thereby democracy, is incompatible with today's huge concentration of wealth within anti-democratic organisations such as multinational corporations (Source: Lindvall 2011, np link).

I am going to continue to Support Dole and Buy More of their Bananas after buying this, This Movie is just Propaganda and slander and more of the usual Washed up 60's ideas of Anti-Corporatism. Only a Few Minutes into this movie and you see A Poster in the Filmmaker's home that says Socialist Author advertising something of sorts I was Surprised There was No Che Slogans on the wall. I guess it would have been too obvious that this so-called 'call for Justice' for the People in Nicaragua is just another one of the many Michael Moore Hack-esque Films that have come out in recent years all screaming about Evil Money and Evil Corporations while pocketing money off these projects. I Would love to see How A Communist or Socialist Run Enterprise did or has done with Cooperatives or their wacky ideas. I am sure the workers would end up in the gulag,Could these workers Might have been Mistreated? Could they have felt side-effects from working in the field? Every job has it's dangers sadly the way this is Presented and taken advantage by Leftists of the world who live in their comfy comodes while screaming injustice wearing expensive clothing and claiming to be for the Little Man. The Problem isn't Dole, It's Nicaragua which is Sandinista/Communist and which sadly a majority of these Same People re-elected! Where are the Cries for Black Political Prisoners In Cuba locked up for being Black and Cuban and Renouncing Castro? Dr. Biscet God Rest his Soul? and Farinas? None, Because these Banana Republics Leftists love won't dare be criticized, These workers at least have work even if they live in a Third World country and their Political Rights are Attacked By Nicaragua's True Elite of Sandinistas and Communists that's the True Injustice not some Corporation that has provided them Jobs. Nicaragua is all about Bribes and Corruption start 'Reforming' that and cover the true injustice not this farce (Source: López 2013, np link).

Wow. You're good! After reading your review I will definitely buy this documentary. I always find it interesting when a small someone decides to side with a large corporation over the needs of workers and public rights. You don't really review the documentary at face value but go on about Cuba and communism and all sorts of things that really don't have anything to do with safe working environments (Source: singer 2014, np link).

astroturf alert! astroturf = creating the impression of public support by paying people in the public to pretend to be supportive (Source: suzyheart 2014, np link).

No, Jose [López] doesn’t need to be paid, suzyheart. He does this stuff out of the goodness of his heart, so to speak (Source: JJ 2014, np link).

[I]n my professional experience as a legal assistant in California, I personally saw the SAME BEHAVIOR as Dole (who did same thing in Hawaii 100 years ago by the way), repeated with the makers of Robittusin cough syrup … they made a birth control device called The Dalkon Shield, it sterilized women, i began my professional law study with that case … company knew about it, kept selling it, did not tell women, who became sterile. I worked at another plaintiff's firm that sued the insulation companies … because they sold insulation that they knew caused asbestosis, like lung cancer but more painful, shards of glass get stuck in the inner lining of the lungs tiny slivers of glass that the victim can't cough up. most of the psychiatric drugs being forced on children are recycled nerve gas from WW2 bought up in bulk by chemical companies recycled to Big Pharma and force fed to any kid who misbehaves in class in some areas of the country, THIS country. I can go on and on. I did also work at defense firms like the lizardy defense attorney who has now encouraged Dole to file what looks like a fraudulent fraud claim (Source: abbyjo 2012, np link).

That's capitalism for you. :D (Source: Eckenerd 2012, np link).

Capitalism always Triumphs (Source: López 2014, np link).

Companies and Governments have exploited people since man decided to organize (Source: Goldtooth 2013, np link).

For decades if not centuries, people have taken advantage of others by putting their health at risk (Source: Perfect72season 2011, np link).

Did [Dole] really think they would get anything but bad-will from acting the way they did? … And Dole really has to check the competence of those who work in their marketing department (Source: stensson 2009, np link).

Dole is not in any Trouble they will continue to post gains no matter what hair-brain schemes the left comes up with (Source: López 2014, np link).

The same day that Judge Chaney dismissed Juan Dominguez's case against Dole, potentially saving Dole tens of millions of dollars in damages payable to Nicaraguan farm workers - that same day - she was nominated for a position on a state appellate court by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and removed from her role in the case. Dole is a major donor to the Governator. Hmm (Source: Rivera 2009, np link).

I think that the judge and the top Dole executives should be thrown in jail. I think that the judge was bought. And the top brass of Dole traded people's lives for what? enriching their own wallets (Source: Auroara 2014, np link)?

Are you listening Amazon [where this comment was posted]? How are you exploiting workers (Source: Goldtooth 2013, np link)? 

I am grateful Amazon.com is not scared of Dole … [and] I encourage Amazon.com to put links to books and films alongside the products, for those teens that like to shop online, it's a great way to sneak in some education (Source: abbyjo 2012, np link).

This is a free-speech issue. Gertten's film should be shown. He should be allowed to state his case. And Dole should affirmatively get its story out. It should state why it thinks Gertten is full of it and why it believes his film is biased. People aren't stupid. They can hear both sides and decide for themselves. That is best done outside a courtroom and in the free and open marketplace of ideas (Source: Crumpley 2009b, np link).

[T]he moviegoing public, particularly those attending documentaries, have the ability to discern fact from fiction and dig a little deeper if questions arise on a subject[.] Do not underestimate the public. They do realize that time and life are static, not rigid, evolving second by second, creating new chapters for further exploration and discovery and perhaps, a second film. To 'redo' every book, recording or film and junk the existing just because of ongoing change, would prevent anything from ever being completed (Source: Elias 2009, np link).

[Dole] might have picked us to send out a message to show how powerful and invincible they are and that they would not tolerate things like that, but perhaps they sued us because documentary film currently has unprecedented impact. Traditional media are on the decline, less and less is invested in quality journalism and journalists don't have the capacity to conduct good investigative work. We - documentary filmmakers - are more committed, we are not looking for the target group in the first place. We are able to dedicate five years of our life to a single topic, with which no investigative journalist can compare. These more and more often include documentaries bringing up new topics which are then adopted by media (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

The gobsmacking aftermath of the lawsuit and allegations against Dominguez are another movie, surely, but they distract from the plight of those who seemingly found work and slow death in the banana groves (Source: Errigo 2010, np)

Outcomes / Impacts

I loved this legal documentary and gave two copies away to friends in law (Source: Wojahn 2013, np link).

After seeing this, I have started avoiding fruits and foods are GMO related (Source: Guava 2013, np link).

My family and I have stopped eating any Dole products and will never do so for the rest of our lives (Source: Amazon Customer 2011, np link)!!!

In Sweden the sale of FairTrade bananas went from 5 to 50 per cent of the sales after the release of the BANANAS!* films (Source: WG Film 2019, np link).

[T]he ICA Malmsborgs store in the centre of Lund offers over 200 fair-trade products, and when the controversial film Bananas!* was released they ran the trailer of this film in the store next to the fair-trade bananas to encourage consumers to choose them. This apparently led to a 500 per cent increase in sales of fair-trade bananas during the period the trailer was shown …, suggesting that this device was very successful in destabilising consumers from their established routines (Source: Wheeler 2012, p.67-68).

Bart [Simpson - Bananas!*’s co-producer] here, back in Canada after a great experience at FICA Environmental Film Festival in Goiás, Brazil - where we won the Audience Award for favourite film. ... I guess I shouldn't have worried - from the 28 films in official competition (all lengths and genres, including Oscar-winner The Cove), the audience chose us as best film. Very flattering, and a great burst of energy for our production team after dealing with lawsuits, misinformed US media articles and a halted release strategy. Most importantly, it keeps the spotlight on the conditions of the workers in Chinandega. The win is already reported in the Nicaraguan press (Source: Simpson 2010, np link).

This award has special significance, the producer said, since it was received in Brazil, where bananas are also grown and where audiences can identify with the cultural similarities. 'Getting a statement like this from the heartland of the largest country in Latin America is proof the film is doing its job,' said Simpson (Source: Reid 2010, np).

[T]he unlimited financial resources of the corporations make their representatives believe that there is no limit to their actions; any crisis can be easily averted by means of the corporate treasure trove. Undoubtedly, it is no problem for Dole Food to pay the damages to the pesticide victims or to cover the expenses for the trial with the director; to whom, on the other hand, the legal trial may have been fatal. After his personal victory over a 'Goliath', Gertten can enjoy the satisfaction of both the attention of a wider audience and the continuation of the debate about the rights of Third World labourers. To those who have not received their damages yet, any unpurchased Dole banana or can becomes a symbolical gesture of support (Source: Anon ndc, np link).

[But] several other filmmakers ..., the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and numerous media companies … note that Dole, which sued documentary director Fredrik Gertten for defamation, is also backing Chevron in its lawsuit [against Joe Berlinger's 2009 documentary Crude', see our page on it here]. 'The risk here is if all of [the outtakes] can be ordered produced … other outtakes far too routinely will be made available in the future,' Abrams said. Consequently, people 'may well be discouraged to talk to filmmakers,' he added. Louie Psihoyos, director of the Academy Award-winning documentary 'The Cove,' about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, said the legal assault comes as nonfiction films are showing increased impact. 'The documentary medium has evolved into the most powerful cultural force we have for change and I think the subjects are responding to that,' he said. … 'Both 'Bananas!*' and 'Crude' are part of the growing trend of plaintiffs' lawyers using a supposedly factual documentary film in a public campaign seeking to discredit the targeted defendants,' Dole said in its friend-of-the-court brief. 'Documentary filmmaking is still the last bastion for truth telling,' Gertten said. 'It's very sad that Dole has now shown their support for Chevron's attack on Joe Berlinger.' Chevron lawyer Mastro, whose firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher was suspended from the 1st Amendment-promoting Media Law Resource Center for its representation of Dole in the 'Bananas!*' case, said neither he nor his firm was out to silence journalists and nonfiction filmmakers. 'This is not a case about the [US Constitution’s] 1st Amendment,' Mastro said. 'It's about an American company urgently needing this evidence to defend itself' (Source: Horn 2010, np link).

What's the latest on Juan Dominguez (Source: Carleton 2010, np link)?

Juan Dominguez is doing well with his firm in Los Angeles. DOLE managed to spin the media that Juan should be disbarred or sent to prison. But in reality he has never been charged of anything. And it will never happen, at least not in relation to the banana cases (Source: Gertten in Carleton 2010, np link).

Last week, a relieved Juan Dominguez provided us with a closing letter from The State Bar Of California confirming his innocence in the banana fraud case. The letter states that Dominguez is free of all 'allegations of professional misconduct', and that the matter is closed. Thus, the State Bar has determined that Dole's allegations against Dominguez of fraudulent activities were without basis. These allegations by Dole were devastating for Dominguez s work and reputation, and the fact that the State Bar has determined that these allegations lacked merit is more evidence of the injustice not only brought upon Dominguez, but also to the thousands of affected banana workers (Source: Anon 2009c, np link).

[Back in Sweden, w]hile the controversy rages, the filmmakers … set up a legal defence fund … and are working on a followup [film]. 'This story has become so multi-layered and we've been hit with so many ridiculous accusations,' says [Bananas!* co-producer Bart] Simpson. 'But this is what documentary filmmaking is about - sticking with something and riding it out to the end. The best defence is the truth' (Source: Reid 2009, np).

We were recently contacted by the crew behind Selva Rica, a creative community of artists, educators and media makers working to promote sustainable lifestyle. They had made a music video inspired by ... BANANAS!*. We think it is quite awesome. Take a few minutes and enjoy this one. And please share (Source: Kamlert 2012, no link).

[And] Gertten [and his team] … made a follow-up [documentary called Big Boys Gone Bananas!* - see our page on this film here] about standing up to Dole, which may wish it never put signature to [that] lawsuit in the first place (Source: Anon 2012b, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* … is the true story about a Swedish filmmaker and a banana corporation. Dirty tricks, lawsuits, manipulation, and the price of free speech. (Anon 2011d, np link). 

One review of the films concluded, ‘Corporate PR has seldom looked so sinister, or daft’ (Source: Crawshaw 2017, np).

If you have seen [Bananas!*], then you MUST see … Big Boys Gone Bananas!* - that one is actually even better (Source: Juselius nd, np link)!

[I]t’s the 2 films that makes the story (Source: Edlund 2017, np link).

References / Further Reading

abbyjo (2012) Comment on Amazon Customer (2011) Why you should boycott eating Dole bananas! amazon.com, 29 September (https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2FM3CFL1Q40VO/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B006URIUTA last accessed 12 October 2020)

Akbar, A. (2010) Might of the multinational fails to stop campaigning film-maker. The Independent (London), 17 April (https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/might-of-the-multinational-fails-to-stop-campaigning-filmmaker-1947223.html last accessed 9 August 2011)

Alioff, M. (2011) When the story changes. POV, 1 February (http://povmagazine.com/articles/view/when-the-story-changes last accessed 20 October 2020)

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Compiled by Ian Cook et al (last updated November 2020). Trailer embedded with the kind permission of Fredrik Gertten. Product photo by Ian Cook.