Big Boys Gone Bananas!*


Year: 2011

Type: Documentary film (90 minutes) and website

Director: Fredrik Gertten 

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

Availability: Stream for free with a library card or university login at here. Buy or rent Omn Demand (on here or on vimeo, embdded below) or buy DVD (from WG Film here, here, or here).

Page reference: Muirhead, C., Lambert, K., Joyce, K., Sensecall, W., Snowden, I., Creagh, M. & Cousens, H. (2020) Big Boys Go Bananas!* ( last accessed <insert date here>)

[See our page on the prequel to this film - Bananas!* - here]

Trailer & stream

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* from WG Film on Vimeo


Big Boys Gone Bananas* is a Swedish documentary film about a Swedish documentary film (Source: SWP 2012, np link).

One little-seen documentary begets another (Source: THR Staff 2012, np link).

The title nods to [Fredrik] Gertten’s previous film, Bananas!, a documentary that chronicled Dole's courtroom drama with banana pickers in Nicaragua. The workers sued the world's largest produce grower for knowingly poisoning them with toxic pesticides (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

[I]f you're really big and powerful then you have to be very kind. Dole is the biggest food company in the world. If you're that strong you have to be good. That may be naïve but that's how I see the world. They are the big boys and they went wrong. They went bananas (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

Bananas!* might easily have become another forgotten liberal doc about workers' rights, until [the] US food corporation … (Source: Kinnear 2012, np link).

… [engaged in] heavy-handed attempts to crush [the] Swedish filmmaker's exposé (Source: Parkinson 2012, np link).

[Dole] sees its brand defiled and reacts with full force (Source: Anon nda, np link). 

Dirty tricks, financial threats and media manipulation. … Dole will do anything to prevent … 'Bananas!' from being shown (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

Dole [is] a company that makes $7bn per year … (Source: Mitchell 2011, np link).

… [and has] 75,000 [employees] in 90 countries, making them the biggest fruit company in the world (Source: Gertten 2011a, np link).

[Gertten’s] WG film has four employes (Source: Gertten 2011a, np link).

[This is an] intense David vs. Goliath confrontation … (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

… [or] a David versus Dole-iath story if you will … (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

… which arises between the company's efforts to defend its image and [Gertten’s] own fight to defend freedom of speech (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

[Big Boys Gone Bananas!*] may well be one of the scariest stories in documentary history (Source: Mendelle 2012, np link).

[C]onfusion was [Dole’s] method, aggression was the tactic and media control was the story (Anon in Gertten 2011b, np link). 

[T]he movie features absurdity of the most extreme kind (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

Corporate PR has seldom looked so sinister, or daft (Source: Collin 2012, np link).

It's thrilling, scary, absurdly funny and on a par with any … kick-ass 70s thriller (Source: Klymkiw 2012a , np link).

As a viewer you are effortlessly dragged into the accumulation of intimidations (Source: de Lange 2012, p.31).

What is a big corporation capable of doing in order to protect its brand (Source: WG Film 2011, np link)?

[For Dole] this was an important test. Could they get away with it … (Source: karlericsson 2012, np link)?

[Big Boys Gone Bananas!* documents] the ridiculous lengths a large company will go to in order to discredit film makers who want to document events as they happened (Source: Amazon Customer 2015, np link).

In the eyes of … Gertten, … 'Bananas!' is a balanced, nuanced depiction of a trial pitting Nicaraguan banana plantation workers and a prominent L.A. attorney against a powerful multinational agribusiness (Source: Johnson 2009, np link).

[It] was regarded as a minor triumph for the little people' involved and was consequently set to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival [LAFF] (Source: Watson 2012, np link).

Film festivals are generally a safe, supportive haven for political documentaries (they're probably the safest, most supportive haven for political documentaries), no matter how incendiary or controversial (Source: Rabin 2012, np link).

But then just before leaving Sweden to attend the Los Angeles world premiere of his film … (Source: WG Film 2011, np link).

… in his Malmö office … (Source: Donadoni 2012, np link).

… Gertten gets a strange message: the festival has decided to remove BANANAS!* from competition (Source: WG Film 2011, np link).

The film is a fraud, says Dole, and soon after, the American media are repeating the same thing - even if nobody has even seen the film yet (Source: Anon ndb, np link)!

[A] scathing, controversial and misinformed article appears on the cover of the Los Angeles Business Journal about the film a week before the premiere (Source: WG Film 2011, np link).

[F]eaturing a dropped banana peel .. [its] headline [was] 'The big slip-up' (Source: Teplitsky 2012, np link).

[It] toed the Dole line, as did public radio station KCRW and other L.A.-based media outlets, deriding the film without having seen it … [And] UCLA law professor David Ginsburg wrote a supporting document for Dole that compared 'Bananas*' to anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda (Source: Anderson 2012, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* documents every nauseating twist and turn along [this] path, beginning with Gertten and his co-producer [Margarete Jangård ] opening the FedEx package with the first batch of weighty legal pages … (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

… [and] reading the lengthy cease and desist order from a Dole Food Company attorney. It was the first drop in a deluge. … But when [Juan ‘Accidentes’ Domingues, the] flamboyant attorney for the bananeros was charged with fraud, further lawsuits were put on hold. This allowed Dole to question both the veracity of 'Bananas!*' and Gertten's motives, effectively changing the narrative from corporate malfeasance to media irresponsibility (Source: Donadoni 2012, np link).

After Dole claimed the movie was defamatory and threatened to sue, the festival took 'Bananas*' out of competition (Source: Anderson 2012, np link).

The Los Angeles Film Festival found itself so hounded by threats of lawsuits from Dole that it only agreed to show the film if a disclaimer was read before the screening essentially denouncing the film as a pack of lies propagated by a filmmaker enthralled with [Juan Dominguez] an ambulance-chasing lawyer who convinced a group of banana farm employees to fake health problems in order to line his own pockets and defraud a beloved American institution (Source: Rabin 2012, np link).

The festival's suggested appeasements all side with Dole and essentially would force Gertten to go against everything artistic expression stands for. When the moronic suggestions were rightly rejected, the festival pulled the movie from official competition, shoved it into a cinema far out of the festival zone and planned to read a statement regarding their cowardly stand prior to the screening. On the night of the screening, Gertten is introduced by Dawn Hudson (who is now the CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences …) then-director of the festival. She invites him to take the stage. He approaches and she motions for him to speak. He balks. He's been promised that she'll read the cowardly statement before his speech to the audience. She feigns surprise, but finally gives in and reads the statement. … She uses the word 'fraudulent' to describe the film's primary subject (even though she admits this same subject is fighting this with the bar association and criminal prosecutors). Though carefully worded so that she, nor the festival are overtly questioning Gertten's credibility, it's clearly slanted to put notions in the minds of the audience that the film they're about to watch is a potential crock. The cowardly words she mouth-pieces are: 'We are not eager to be sued. Nor, given what we know, do we believe that BANANAS!* - in its present form - presents a fair or accurate portrait. ...' ... Her final words to the audience are the biggest spoonful of bull-feces-laden-sugar to help the medicine of the cowardly go down: ‘… we are showing this film - out of competition - as a case study, to illuminate a timely exploration of what makes (and doesn't make) a responsible documentary’ (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

Gertten's … reputation as a filmmaker and a journalist were damaged, and with a deep-pocketed persecutor, he had next to no chance at public redemption - without telling his story on screen (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

But [he] … insists on defending his premiere, his film, his reputation and not least his freedom of speech to tell the rest of the world how the multinational company for many years has exposed its employees to harmful pesticides (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

Imagine what it feels like to spend three years or so in Nicaragua making a movie and then to have a bunch of bastards in suits telling you that your time and money were wasted (Source: Proyect 2012, np link)?

Gertten [is] bewildered (Source: StevePulaski 2013, np link).

What do you do when you make [a] film … only to be threatened by a hefty lawsuit weeks before you’re due to hit the festival circuit hoping to secure international distribution (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link)?

[Use your] insurance to hire a top lawyer … (Source: Anon 2012a, np link).

… (… Gertten [had] wisely purchas[ed] an insurance policy to protect his rights for just such an attack on his project's hopes for wide release and distribution - U.S. lawyer Lincoln Bandlow gamely taking the case) … (Source: Wegg 2012, np link).

… [and m]ake a film about it, of course (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

What he captures is borderline surreal (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

[This] stubborn struggle against all odds … bec[a]me a new film: 'Big Boys Gone Bananas!’ … (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

[Gertten] filmed this entire process … (Source: WG Film 2011, np link).

… [like] a video diary … (Source: Anon 2012a, np link).

… capturing the lack of support from the film festival, the media's turn against them, and heat-of-the-moment panicked Skype calls as multi-million dollar lawsuits fly in … (Source: Reardon 2012, np link).

… from DOLE attacking the producers with a defamation lawsuit, utilizing scare tactics, to media-control and PR-spin … (Source: WG Film 2011, np link).

… to [the filmmakers’] ballsy fighting-back bravado … (Source: Kinnear 2012, np link).

… refusing to lie down and be trampled over by dirty money, dirty smear campaigns and some of the dirtiest men ever to regard themselves as humans … (Source: Watson 2012, np link).

… for nearly two years (Source: Donadoni 2012, np link).

And what we see is what was actually happening to the film's central figure - Gertten himself - a documentary filmmaker embroiled in the dark, nasty manipulations of an evil corporate entity (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

[T]he little guy stands his ground … As the conflict escalates, [he] looks to be in serious danger of being nailed to the wall, but he keeps his camera rolling and captures every ugly detail of the bloodthirsty spin campaign that’s targeted at him (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

The film does not deal overtly with the personal impact of the months-long fight, but you can see it on the filmmakers' faces as they engage in an onslaught of legal and PR battles (Source: Lederman 2012, np link).

It's all very intimate and, at times, almost voyeuristic (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

With his shaggy, hangdog look and mild, unflappable demeanor, Mr. Gertten easily solicits empathy for his plight (Source: Catsoulis 2012, np link).

Onscreen, he maintains a naïve faith that Dole will be reasonable once they've seen the film (Source: Linden 2012, np link).

Gertten is from Sweden, where 'low profile' defines everything from the furniture to the landscape. You can tell he's there only because he absolutely has to be: This story is about him (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

[But he] doesn't present himself as an anti-corporate crusader: being in the crosshairs of a multinational company left him at risk, based on what he could lose personally, with 'Bananas!*' trapped in litigation limbo (Source: Anderson 2012, np link).

Gertten, [and co-producers Bart] Simpson and [Margarete] Jangard were lucky enough to get help from First Amendment lawyers in the U.S., one of whom can't stop shaking his head at the tricks, and the scope of corporate complicity (Source: Monk 2012b, p.D8).

[So Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is a] journalistic thriller about having the courage to criticise those larger than yourself … (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

… [about] how the livelihood of documentary filmmakers can be easily put into jeopardy … (Source: Dogwoof 2012, np link).

… and … [about how] a counter-attack is sometimes the best line of defence (Source: Anon ndb, np link).

[It’s] a brilliant judo defence … (Source: Brooks 2012, np link).

… [but we are left in] no doubt that this director has ended this battle significantly more chastened and exhausted than when he began (Source: Catsoulis 2012, np link).

Dole Foods are the villain … (Source: Brooks 2012, np link).

… [in a film where the] feelings engendered by the great paranoid thrillers of 70s American Cinema are alive and well again - crackling with the same terror, dread and mounting odds against one man or a handful of individuals who are fighting oppressive, almost dystopian, virtually Orwellian dark forces (Source: Klymkiw 2012a , np link).

[T]he film is like some kind of Kafka nightmare through the eyes of a David Lynchian dreamscape. It's unbelievably cruel, nasty and terrifying. Sometimes it's so absurd, you want to laugh. Can this really happen in a democratic society? Well, considering democracy is dead - at least in North America - the answer would be a resounding, 'Yes!' … (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* hews to a traditional three-act structure, analogous in many ways to a piece of fiction filmmaking, and that's probably not coincidental. …The first act follows Gertten to the North American premiere of Bananas!* at the Los Angeles Film Festival [see above] (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

The second act documents the pervasive and pernicious influence of corporations on journalism, leading the viewer through so-called strategic communications ('claiming the narrative' by getting your spin on it out there first) and the phenomenon of 'astroturfing' (planting corporate-sponsored yet independent-seeming comments online in various forums) (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

Between the movie's carefully curated Los Angeles screening (attended by both Gertten and lawyers and representatives from Dole, making for quite a surreal introduction, chronicled in this film) and its Swedish theatrical release, Dole would eventually follow through on their repeated threats, and sue Gertten and one of his producers for defamation, essentially arguing that they knew the allegations by Dole workers covered in their movie to be false (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

[This] is a legal and ethical morass of media intimidation and grass-roots fakery, much of it purportedly orchestrated by a high-end risk management firm whose hiring department, according to this film, may favor former covert operatives … (Source: Catsoulis 2012, np link).

… [who helped to create a] perfect storm of (a) a court ruling … [and] cease-and-desist threats from Dole using the Domínguez decision as the basis for describing the suddenly hot doc as a defaming, libelous piece of fraud, [and] (b) an avalanche of lawsuits, attack Op-Ed pieces and 'targeted' chatroom mischief trying to portray Gertten as a misguided liar and Dole as the champion of hardworking employees worldwide … Stirring up the frenzied pot of willfull misrepresentation on behalf of Dole was John Procter, senior vice president and partner from the Washington, D.C. PR firm Gibraltar Associates (Source: Wegg 2012, np link).

The film alleges that it was cheaper for Dole to malign a little-known filmmaker with a sophisticated smear campaign than it was to pay off the millions in damages to the Nicaraguan workers, to say nothing of the damage done to the Dole brand itself, should it become known they were harming human beings on purpose (Source: Monk 2012b, p.D8).

[T]his documentary is a rare peek at PR firms, lawyers, and pseudo grass roots activities, and the utter havoc they can reek on our rights, on the behalf of the highest bidders (Source: Jumpy1 2014, np link).

[It] deftly lifts the lid on the black ops of 21st-century 'brand management' … (Source: Brooks 2012, np link).

… uncover[s] … the bizarre, big-money game of illusion and political power that essentially sets the public agenda all over the world … (Source: Mendelle 2012, np link).

… [and] outlines the huge challenge faced by journalists who wish to take multinationals to task … (Source: Ross 2012, np link).

… making the film meaningful beyond the story a filmmaker being taken to court (Source: Mendelle 2012, np link)

The film shows how just how easy it is to discredit truth-seekers if they have no cash in their pockets, and no friends in corporate America (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

Dole did everything from buying the name 'Fredrik Gertten' on Google, utilize a tactic called 'astroturfing,' … bribe several news sources, and play filthy with a [tiny Swedish film] company completely ill-equipped to fight back (Source: StevePulaski 2013, np link).

People found it easier to question the credibility of a filmmaker than believe Dole was not only negligent, but orchestrating a campaign to shut up the filmmakers and make people question the filmmaker's integrity (Source: Mendelle 2012, np link).

American academics, lawyers and media outlets obsequiously acquiesced in Dole Foodsbid to block Bananas!* … (Source: Parkinson 2012, np link).

The company's massaging of American media results in Hollywood Reporter critic Kirk Honeycutt, among others, parroting Dole's claims without investigation (Source: Wong 2012, np link).

[T]he U.S. media fell lockstep behind Dole's claims … (Source: Linden 2012, np link).

… [because they were] terrified of both losing ad dollars and lawsuits (Source: Rabin 2012, np link).

Bloggers, forum posters - obviously Dole plants - were writing the most damning things about Gertten and his film (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

The most shocking thing was seeing mainstream media and then some of the film community turn against us. People were simply lifting talking points from Dole, without a lot of due diligence (Source: Simpson in Eisner 2012, np link).

Even Canadian media seemed to get lost in the layers of sticky spin, as the film shows one CTV on-air personality offhandedly discrediting Gertten's reportorial chops by reiterating Dole's spin, and describing Gertten, sarcastically, as 'an artiste' who wouldn't let truth stand in the way of a good story (Source: Monk 2012b, p.D8).

[V]arious American and Swedish journalists, PR experts and Web-based propagandists line up and weigh in on exactly how a company like Dole gets others … to do their dirty work (Source: Anderson 2012, np link).

[One explains] the case of the Cincinnati Enquirer's capitulation to Chiquita on a story they threatened to go to court over, in effect wiping their database clean of any indication that the story had ever been published (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

[Another] … asks, regarding Dole's reaction to Bananas!*, 'What did you think was going to happen?' … (Source: Kissick Jones 2012, np link).

'you are naive if you take a pop at a big multi-national and not think they'll come at you' (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

[A]s [this] chilling 'facts of life' interview with a public relations specialist makes clear, Dole considers journalistic muckraking an attack on its brand name (Source: Wong 2012, np link).

[And] you can see the weight on him [Gertten] in the film. There's one moment where you can see him staring into the camera, and you can just feel the gravity of the situation (Source: Simpson in Eisner 2012, np link).

Ultimately, to see an artist go through the legal torture inflicted upon him by Dole (and everyone on their payroll) is as stomach-turning as it is anger-inducing. His producer [Margarete Jangård], for example, gets an anonymous … (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

… aggresive letter with a provocative ending [‘By the way, good luck with your finances’] … (Source: Kamlert 2012a, np link).

… [and] suggesting she disavow herself from Gertten and the film (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

Obviously the writer understood that a small production company will have problems surviving a fight with a bullying multinational (Source: Kamlert 2012a, np link).

It even strongly implies that 'money will flow' to her future productions if she does so (also implying, she's finished if she doesn’t). Dole hires a public relations firm to contact every major journalist in the world (including a whole bunch of them in Sweden), promising one-on-one access to the Dole side of the story. News item upon news item in every media known to man flings mud upon Gertten and places Dole on a pedestal. People close to Gertten feel like they're under constant surveillance (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

[I]t got so bad that the Swedish government had to get involved over the censorship … and the harassment of the film maker and anyone connected to [the film] (Source: singer 2014, np link).

What is shaping up as a losing proposition for Gertten is turned around only because Swedish parliamentarians on both sides of the aisle are so outraged by an American company's attempt to quash a Swedish film that they take bipartisan umbrage (Source: Anderson 2012, np link).

The final act [in Bog Boys Gone Bananas!*] focuses on how Sweden rallies to the film's defense (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

[Gertten] find[s] his cause taken up by an almost nationalist-activist fervor when Swedes finally determined Dole's behavior to be outside the boundaries of corporate decency … (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

… [and he gains support from] an unlikely bunch of supporters including a charmingly scruffy nerd / blogger, a burger chain and the entire Swedish Parliament (Source: SWP 2012, np link).

Gertten's fortunes begin to turn after a noted Swedish blogger refuses the Dole fruit salad he's offered at a burger chain - and then blogs about it (Source: Lederman 2012, np link).

[He] pointed out to the manager of his local MAX hamburger outlet that Dole supplied fruit salads for the chain, and were the same company pressuring local filmmaker Gertten (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

In his blog [he] … posts a picture of a fruit salad from Dole that he had bought at MAX with a big 'no entrance' sign over it. He also writes e-mail to MAX stating how outrageous it is that they serve products from Dole. In response MAX decides to boycott Dole's products (Source: Bergenfelz 2012, np link).

What also made a difference was the reaction [of] Sweden[’s] … main medical journal (Läkartidningen) [which] examined the health impacts of DBCP [the banned pesticide that was the subject of the Bananas!* class action suit, and] the federation of Journalists and the Swedish Film Institute condemned the law suit as a threat to freedom of expression (Source: Isacsson 2009, np link).

Then - in the sort of thing that could perhaps only happen in Sweden and might be chopped out of any feature film adaptation - Gertten bumps into Social Democrat MP Luciano Astudillo at his local cheese shop. Astudillo asks if he can help, and they agree to set up a screening of BANANAS!* in Parliament. Swedish MPs come out in support of the film and - more importantly - Gertten's right to get it screened, with further pressure coming from the country's supermarket chains which demand a response from Dole. Then on October 15, 2009, two hours before a meeting between Parliament and the supermarket bosses Dole … (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

… withdraws the lawsuit, stating it’s because of the concerns about free speech that has been raised in Sweden. However they still claim to believe in their case (Source: Bergenfelz 2012, np link).

Gertten's lawyer [then] pursues legal action against Dole … (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

… in an effort to keep hopes of a Stateside theatrical distribution deal alive (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

… and … wins the case for defamation against Dole and is awarded £200,000 in attorney fees … (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

Which is a pretty sweet fruit (Source: Reardon 2012, np link).

At considerable cost to his health and welfare Gertten stood up and eventually … won … (Source: French 2012, np link).

… [if you] define… victory as finally being heard amid the deafening cacophony of corporate spin (Source: Donadoni 2012, np link).

In the face of this assault, it's particularly humbling that Sweden demonstrates it's a better guardian of free speech than the United States (Source: Wong 2012, np link).

The film draws a parallel between the USA and the Nordic countries in a way that stings: money or freedom of speech, which will win (Source: Anon ndc, np link)?

But without that meeting at his local cheese shop who knows how the story night have turned out (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

Canadian Co-producer Bart Simpson laments that even in Canada, artists would never receive the kind of media and government support Gerrten received in his home country - against Dole (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

Inspiration / Technique / Process / Methodology

FREDRIK GERTTEN is an award winning director and journalist based in Malmö, Sweden. In 1994 he founded WG Film. Before that he worked as a foreign correspondent for radio and television in Africa, Latin America, Asia and around Europe. He is famous for giving his local stories a wider, more global understanding (Source: Anon 2012b, np link).

[WG Films] started when [Gertten and] veteran filmmaker Lars Westman … teamed up to make a film about the construction of the bridge connecting our hometown Malmö with Copenhagen. Walking on Water -  A huge project. It took five years and meanwhile other film projects where born: local films about the transition of Malmö, including the early films about Malmö FF - True Blue and The Way Back, featuring a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Lars Westman left the company and moved to Brazil in 2000. Since then, Fredrik Gertten has been the sole owner of WG Film, but with a strong partnership with Margarete Jangård, who has been running the daily operations for the past 15 years. Understanding that Swedish documentary film needed stronger structures and stronger producers, WG Film set off with the goal of creating better conditions for the sort of documentary film that we love. The company has grown out of necessity - it is hard today for a documentary filmmaker to manage on his own if he wants to make films with high artistic and technical quality. High-end films need a long editing process and some energy remaining for the release. We have created good conditions for that by financing our films internationally. Today as alwayswe mostly work with long, time-consuming film projects, often with a production time of more than two years, sometimes even longer. We have had the time to develop the skill of managing large quantities of recorded material and turning that into strong documentary films (Source: WG Films nd, np link).

WG Film has extensive experience from working with films as a tool to create change … (Source: WG Films nd, np link).

… [while t]raditional media are on the decline … (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

… [and] is now losing money (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

[L]ess and less is invested in quality journalism and journalists don't have the capacity to conduct good investigative work … (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

… [and] are losing their self-confidence … There is something going on out there that is very, very dangerous for democracy (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

[M]any [media corporations] are owned by corporate entities that have an influence on the news and its presentation and distribution (Source: Gertten in WG Film 2011, np link).

We all have to think about how we can address that … [and] independent media has a crucial role (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

[We] have an even harder job to seek the truth and will continue to meet more opposition, as we continue to tell these stories of corporations doing bad things. … Going through this experience always made me wonder: How free is freedom of speech and how free is freedom of press. We need to keep making our films and telling these stories (Source: Gertten in WG Film 2011, 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. … 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: Anon 2016, np link).

Bart Simpson from Canada (yes, he's heard the jokes) was a co-producer of the original BANANAS!* movie and hence became a subject of BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*. And as a co-producer of THE CORPORATION, he's familiar with the nature of the beast (Source: Simpson 2012, np link).

The Corporation [is]a doc Gertten often refers to in describing the pathology he encountered in the last few years [with Big Boys]. The[se] guys probably should have seen it coming (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

[Simpson] met Gertten at the 2004 edition of Toronto's Hot Docs. His new Swedish pal later sent him some clippings about striking Nicaraguan workers, and they started filming [Bananas!*] in 2007. [Big Boys…] 'was largely done while we were on tour with the first one', Simpson recalls. 'We picked up another crew to shoot us when we were expecting to get served with papers at the L.A. festival, because we figured this was the best way to protect ourselves. I mean, documenting is what we do, right?' … (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

We have shot in Malmö and Stockholm, Sweden. In Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco and New York City. Toronto, Ontario and St John, Newfoundland in Canada. Berlin, Germany and Reykjavik, Iceland. London, UK (Source: Gertten 2011a, np link).

Gertten … does not … consider himself an activist or a revolutionary or a political filmmaker (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link). 

I never considered myself as a political filmmaker or a campaign filmmaker or an activist. I might be a political person or an activist when I'm not on the job making films, but this is the thing - making a film is my job and I want to make a film that can travel into hearts and minds and that's something different. … I want to make this story hit people emotionally in ways that people can reflect upon their own lives and life itself. … I never think 'Oh, I'm going to do something controversial.' That would be a stupid setup (Source: Gerttn in Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

Documentary is a genre. We constantly work with a narrative arc. When we edit our films we use the same language dramatic filmmakers use to tell the story. It's classical knowledge and we use it (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

[Gertten’s] primary agenda is to tell good stories - END of story (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link). 

I think people want the truth, but they also want to be entertained and that goes for all of us. Sometimes we get entertained by fake stories and a lot of stuff in the media right now is fake. That creates a very special challenge for filmmakers - especially documentary filmmakers. If we want to do films that can reach out to a mass audience, we have to make films that are as well done as traditional narrative-based dramas and all the other stuff. It has to be exciting (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a, np link). 

Filmmaking without passion is very boring even if the message is the right one (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

[But w]e also have to do films that are reaching out to people. … I don't think that people are stupid and I know when people see my films nobody is left out (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a, np link). 

Gertten had made several films about bullying and various sorts of crooks (Thin Ice, 2006; Belfast Girls, 2006) but as he himself puts it, it was for the first time in 2009 [when Dole started to attack Bananas!*], when he found himself helpless and driven into a corner. The only way out was to fight back using his own means. \It was an entirely new level of aggression that most documentary filmmakers have probably never experienced. It often happens that one of your protagonists complains about something in the film and you have to discuss possible edits and make compromises, but this time was different. Dole didn't want to talk, they wanted to destroy us' [he said] (Source: Anon 2016, np link).

In May 2009, my lawyer told me that I would be sued by … Dole … if I screened my documentary, Bananas!, at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2009 … I felt that I had to show my film, because if I didn't fight for it, nobody else would (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

'Their goal is to stop the film,' he says. 'Our goal is to screen it and release it.' Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is therefore about his quest to get … [Bananas!*] back from the dead and into the cinemas (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

[T]o protect myself I hired a film crew to follow me in LA to document getting served with papers. This documentation of our own crazy battle with Dole gave us a framework of a film. If you know you have the dramatic arc, you can focus on making the story bigger and deeper. This is not easy and not always fun, but that's what we, documentary filmmakers do. We keep fighting until we have a film (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

Being sued by a multi-national corporate giant like Dole Foods is no PR-stunt and is no fun (Source: Gertten in WG Film 2011, np link).

My mother called, crying, and asked me to give up. My kids were also stressed about it (Source: Gertten in Lederman 2012, np link).

I was forced into the center of the story (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

I've never done a film with my own face in it before! I'm no Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock. That's not how I've done film over the years. But this story was hard to tell without me in the film, so I just had to accept it (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

My whole job … was to get the feelings I experienced into my film. … Living the story intimately - to get these personal feelings out to my audience - this was the big challenge of doing the film. Evoking feeling should be the challenge of doing any film (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a, np link). 

But this is not a film about me … (Source: Gertten in Lederman 2012, np link).

… [and] I hated all the footage and my one hundred bad hair days (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

Sometimes I would like to re-name the film … '100 Bad Hair Days'. But maybe that's my next project (Source: Gertten 2011d, np link).

With prolonged working days floating over the 9 hour time zone difference between Sweden and California; talking to my lawyer almost every week for two long years; and at the same time, travelling with [Bananas!*] giving interviews, reading legal documents and juggling being a good father, filming Big Boys Gone Bananas! became more than a full time job. It was extremely overwhelming and it became my life. Editing the material we shot documenting our own struggle was truly an emotional journey back in time (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

I didn't know if I had a film. We didn't know what the film should be about (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

If our own experience becomes the subject of the film, how shall we treat it? It took some time. We understood that this will not be another film about fruit or bananas. This is a different story, about freedom of speech and about the huge machine a corporation can release when they dislike filmakers, journalists or other critics. During the fight for the right to show … BANANAS!* we simply recorded stuff that happened around us. Later on, when I understood that this is a film in making, I sat down with my excellent film editor friends Jesper Osmund and Niels Pagh Andersen (Source: Gertten 2011d, np link).

We have an edit suite at our office, so I've spent like five months in total with … Jesper …, Niels … and Benjamin Binderup. All three danes that commute with train over the Öresundsbridge, Copenhagen, Denmark to Malmö, Sweden. A month ago we picture-locked the film. That's a tough moment. Weeks and months I've had all the possible edit options running around my brain. Day and night (Source: Gertten 2011a, np link).

The last month [of production was] with Benjamin Binderup as editor. Music specially composed by Conny Malmqvist … Alexander Törnquist is doing his best on the sound design and now my good friend Michael Cavanagh just came back from Australia to take on the color grading of the film. Charlotte Rodenstedt is working with all the motion grafics and the cool stuff we do with documents and news paper clippings. It's amazing to be surrounded by professionals. I must mention my producer Margarete Jangård and Lina Bertilsson. Emma Svensson is the one who coordinates the whole post production. A lot of of work. But of course I also have to stay alert, they all want my feedback, and sometimes I feel like going on holidays, dreaming of returning to a complete master piece. But I stay on and do my best to help out (Source: Gertten 2011d, np link).

[The whole process] is interesting! You learn a lot, and if you survive you certainly have a story to tell. I have worked as a journalist and filmmaker for 25 years now. And the experience of being the subject of an attack from a major corporation such as this, gave me a deeper understanding of society and media. In BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* I am trying to understand how Dole Foods did what they did. The questions kept coming: Why were they so successful in the US in controlling the story in the media and blocking the film for almost two years? In addition, the film is also about corporate scare tactics and instilling fear in the little guys. How do people react when they can feel the raw forces of money and power coming against a filmmaker (Source: Gertten in WG Film 2011, np link)?

We discussed and talked, and played with the footage. [And] I went out and shot new interviews, trying to understand what had come down on us (Source: Gertten 2011d, np link).

When I went back to Los Angeles in 2010 to do interviews …, it was a cathartic experience. With film, it allows you to travel back in time, trigger memories and perhaps understand what really happened then. The biggest challenge in this project was of course to leave behind part of these private memories that made me angry and instead focus on the facts and raise up those experiences that we as citizens of the modern media speedy world need to talk about. I had good help from my editors and my narrative consultant. They helped me to keep my wits about myself and to tell a story that was deemed in facts without the emotional roller coaster personal feelings that I had while being attacked and sued by this huge powerful corporation. … This was not an easy journey or process (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

[B]y being the subject of a major attack by a corporation I had seen a pattern. I saw first hand how scare tactics from a major corporation works, how 'information spin' becomes powerful and how much media control a corporate giant can leverage. I had to travel back and understand how DOLE did all of these things. They were successful in the United States - but not so strong in my country, Sweden, where we received tons of support. In the US, Dole shifted the focus of Bananas! off of them … and to dis-crediting the lawyer who represented the banana workers. Then, they shifted that focus onto me, the filmmaker. So in making this sequel, it was important to film and document everything. What became clear throughout this lawsuit madness was Dole's message to any journalist or filmmaker - don't even try to come up against us. So, film is extremely important to tell this story - so everyone can see up close how these tactics were in play and how this large corporation behaved (Source: Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

[S]ome people moved away for us and left us alone to fight this battle. Perhaps they believed Dole had a point, or maybe it was just a battle they could not afford to take on (Source: Gertten in WG Film 2011, np link).

I had to fight so hard with the journalists in Los Angeles. I was pushed into a very defensive position. With every interview I had to explain everything. The angle Dole had created was well done and it stuck; it pushed me into a corner of being a naïve, stupid filmmaker who made a crook [lawyer Juan Dominguez] into a hero (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

[W]e tried for a long time to tell journalists: 'Come on, you don't have to care about us, don't write a single line about us - why don't you just tell the story of the banana workers? There is a great news story in there!' We tried to point people in that direction but nobody went there. We managed to turn it around in Sweden by being this small Swede against a big American. We suddenly had a different angle that was as good as their angle. But both of the angles left the banana workers out. Nobody went for the real story, and that was what Dole wanted. Dole had nothing personal with me, but they did with the banana workers. They managed to get people to talk about something completely irrelevant (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

But … this new film is allowing us once again the opportunity to re-tell the story of these banana workers and how they were endangered by Dole (Source: Gertten in Filmmaker Staff 2012, np link).

My hope was for people to watch the film (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link)

[But] it's easier if you don't watch it. If you don't watch it you can keep your position … But I trusted my film [Bananas!*] to do the job. Now people were actually going to see the film I trusted that they would watch it and go: 'Ah, so there is nothing to sue here!' I didn't really care about the festival's disclaimer. It was over-the-top and stupid. The audience were on my side. Before the screening of the film, after my speech, I showed the audience a Google tagging of my name. I showed our webpage, the [sponsored] Dole link, and I showed the audience a counter-trailer that Dole had made. I believed that there was nothing to sue and I never doubted my film. Juan Dominguez was portrayed as a Ferrari-driving guy who wanted to go down in history. I never sold him as a hero. I had no worries about that (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

[Bananas!*] is much more than a hit piece on Dole. It's a story about what happens to whistleblowers and people who tell important stories where the powerful don't like it. Hopefully other people can learn from the techniques that Dole applied against us. It's the same techniques that are used against anybody who tries to tell a story. You can see right now with WikiLeaks and Assange. It's very interesting. Everything gets very blurry and mixed up. It's scary (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

When you fight mighty people, you need friends (Source: Gertten in Mitchell 2011, np link).

[W]e were fortunate that there were those who showed passion and solidarity with us (Source: Gertten in WG Film 2011, np link).

[T]he intercession of… lawyers like Lincoln Bandlow, who appears prominently in the film, [was] the beginning of a push-back (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

LINCOLN BANDLOW specializes in litigating media, First Amendment, intellectual property and other entertainment related matters in the motion picture, television, publishing, broadcasting, internet and advertising fields. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Bandlow has been a visiting professor at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California since the Spring of 1995. In 2012 he was named one of the Top 100 Entertainment Power Lawyers by the Hollywood Reporter (Source: McNally 2012, np link).

[So how was] Gertten … able to fight Dole with the assistance of a powerful litigation lawyer (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link)?

Gertten admits to being thankful that Bananas!* had insurance in place for just such an occurrence. Most people outside the film industry (and certainly even young, aspiring filmmakers) are completely unaware of the scourge / blessing called Errors and Omissions insurance. I personally detest that it even became a requirement of making films when it really reared its ugly head in the late 80s. Worst of all, it became de rigueur because of America - a country that increasingly became one of the most litigious empires in the world. In most countries outside North America - even to this very day - Errors and Omissions is not a requirement to secure production financing, distribution and broadcast sales. Alas, if one wants any penetration into the North American marketplace, it is an absolute must. For me, Errors and Omissions was just another excuse to add more costs to making movies and to put money into the greedy pockets of lawyers and insurance companies. E&O is not cheap. The insurance is term-based, needs to be renewed at various intervals during the entire life of a film and in order for a company to even grant it to you, they will usually require that an approved list of lawyers examine every aspect of your proposed film to ensure there is nothing remotely litigious. To my mind, E&O insurance is already an attack against free speech - an act of censorship that occurs even before a movie is made. Worst of all, the insurance carries ridiculous deductibles. I asked Gertten if Bananas*! was especially difficult to clear for E&O. Surprisingly, the lawyers gave his film a clean bill of health with no exclusions whatsoever. The deductible, however, was utterly ludicrous. It was a standard $10,000 USD. In the scheme of things, this seems a low price to pay for all the legal fees if you do get sued, but ask any independent filmmaker how easy it is to come up with $10-grand to secure said legal services and you'll get another story altogether. Like any insurance, once you make a claim - any claim - this affects one's future ability to get insurance at a reasonable cost and with a less usurious deductible. Gertten admits that securing affordable Errors and Omissions insurance on Big Boys Gone Bananas!* proved to be a huge ordeal. It eventually worked out, but the journey to even secure it was most arduous (Source: Klymkiw 2012a , np link).

Unfortunately [this] film was hard to finance. This time we got no North American funders onboard, and less European money too (Source: Jangård in Kamlert 2012a, np link).

We lost a lot of money in the [Bananas!*] fight, almost $200,000, and this makes life hard for us. We work[ed] day and night to prove Dole and the writer of the letter [to Margarete Jangard saying good luck with your finances] wrong (Source: Jangård in Kamlert 2012a, np link).

That's a lot of money. But didn't WG Film recieve a reimbursement from Dole? That must have covered the lawyers fees (Source: Kamlert 2012a, np link)?

Yes, all of it went straight to our law firm to cover our legal costs. But two years of intense work on the defense consumed all of our time - we didn't have time for new projects. We make our living by doing films. Even if BANANAS!* travelled over 50 countries, a documentary can't win that kind of money back on the market (Source: Jangård in Kamlert 2012a, np link).

[And] will Dole once again find reasons to sue Mr Gertten and his film company? And, if so, will they do it before or after they have watched the movie (Source Karlsson in Gertten 2011c, np link)?

[Dole] were so successful at controlling the media [last time] so [this time] we needed to tell our own stories and we used our web page for that. We also put up material in their favour because we wanted to be totally transparent (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

I believe that it was primarily the transparent and personal approach to social media profiles including Facebook and Twitter that helped us win the case (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

We were open about all we've been accused of as well as all evidence against them (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

They set the media against us, slandered us, and so we saw it as important to have our own platform where people could find objective information (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

If journalists came to us they could get both versions. If they went to Dole's side they couldn't get anything (Source: Gertten in O’key 2012, np link).

We didn't have enough money to pay people, to fund a campaign, so it was mainly me managing our Facebook profile, our website and Twitter (Source: Gertten in Anon 2016, np link).

[For Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, w]e now look forward to a more direct connection with our friends and audience (Source: Gertten 2011c, np link).

It might look like one small step to be launching an outreach website, but for us this is a giant leap (Source: Gertten 2011c, np link).

Ben [Kempas] equipped Fredrik with a NationBuilder website and set up [a] … Kickstarter campaign, one of the first ever in Europe. The target was modest … and there was no previous evidence of European interest in this new fundraising concept. From today's perspective, the Kickstarter target was set too modest, and Ben subsequently turned a NationBuilder donation page into an ongoing crowdfunding page also offering rewards but with a longer-term goal. To date, this donation page has raised just as much as the original Kickstarter drive, yet without the immense pressure of such a campaign (Source: Anon ndd, np link).

In tech speak, [the NationBuilder website] toolkit … combines Customer Relationship Management (i.e. your audience) with a Content Management System (i.e. your films, each on a dedicated website) - and fully integrates with event management, fundraising and social media. It was during [2011’s] election campaign of the pro-independence Scottish National Party that I first came across powerful software called NationBuilder, geared towards political use but flexible enough to be used for all sorts of campaigns, including outreach to those niche audiences of documentary films … Whatever your political colour is, you'll need to acknowledge that the SNP succeeded in identifying many new supporters and turning them into powerful influencers through social media. Complementing the SNP's bespoke Activate voter database, NationBuilder played a big role in this. Can this political concept be applied to audience engagement? Coincidentally or not, it turns out that the SNP's New Media Strategist has a background in the film industry, so I asked [him] for his perspective. This is what he told us today: 'As the market gets more crowded it becomes vital that film-makers make use of tools like NationBuilder to build inertia around each stage of the filmmaking process; making it easier to raise funds and crowdsource what's needed - all the while empowering audiences to help market the film and form relationships with either the film-maker, the film's characters, or both.' Having compared NationBuilder to other combinations of CMS and CRM, we decided to test it across various websites as part of our Virtuous Circle, an initiative supported by Creative Scotland. The first implementation was in the form of a website for the science documentary Stem Cell Revolutions … I then got hired as a NationBuilder consultant for … Big Boys Gone Bananas!* … [So] we're testing what this software can do (Source: Kempas 2012, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* … premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (Source: Lederman 2012, np link).

Saturday morning I gave the opening speech at the International Fair Trade Towns Conference in my hometown of Malmö. Good people from 23 countries fighting for a good cause. Really inspiring. … After the conference I jumped on my bike and had a coffee with my sweet daugther. A few hours later, I met up with my producer Margarete Jangård and went to Amsterdam. Straight to a press conference where Morgan Spurlock and friends announced the new Cinelan short film project, where I have also been invited to do a 3-minute short. Really cool. After a rushed dinner at a Peruvian restaurant it was time for the BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* World Premiere. A long line of people waiting to get in. Friends asking for tickets, but everything sold out… I was seated in the first row, so close to the screen that the promise of fixing everything in post seemed to be a total lie. Hard to enjoy a film when you are only looking for mistakes. But I did my best. Film editor Jesper Osmund was sitting in the back, and he said that people enjoyed the film, laughing and smiling. He was proud and told me to be that, too. The question-and-answer session after the film indicated that the audience understood what I wanted to debate. The bigger story, freedom of speech, control of media. … Leaving the cinema, I got many hugs. A collegue from a film festival in South Korea wanted to invite me to Seoul in September, saying that this story is also very important in his country. I love these kinds of words. Indicating that the film can be used in a debate on freedom of speech in another country. … Documentary film is a movement (Source: Gertten 2011e, np link).

An email from Caroline Libresco made my heart beat. ‘Dear Fredrik and Margarete, On behalf of John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, it's our great pleasure to invite BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* to play in our World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Our programming team is very excited to present the North American premiere of this excellent film. One email can sometimes change a lot of things. This one was then followed by a flood of emails from film festivals, sales agents, distributors, journalists - and of course friends wishing us all the best.’ When you work with film you want to reach out. To be on the best possible platform for the launch of your film. In the United States and beyond, the Sundance film festival is a door opener. People with influence talk about your film. The buzz travels. When my previous film BANANAS!* opened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2009, we were instantly attacked with aggresive legal letters and a well-constructed media campaign. Guess what it feels like to be able to return to the US now, with a new film to be launched at the largest independent cinema festival in the States. It's a big, big win for us - and more importantly, a big win for documentary filmmaking, for our right to tell the stories that need to be told. With Sundance, we will have a forum to discuss how freedom of speech, now more than ever, is a matter of how much money you have. How investigative journalism is losing out. And how the PR industry is taking over the agenda of most media (Source: Gertten 2011f, np link)!

So far nobody from Dole is feeling litigious, Gertten says, although he doesn't know if they've seen this one yet (Source: Mitchell 2011, np link).

With the Sundance Film Festival, we're lucky enough to have the greatest possible launch platform for BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*. What we don't have is the money to pay for the initial costs of such a launch. We're still suffering from the loss of all the time and money that went into the fight Dole had brought upon us. Against all odds, we did succeed in making my previous film available to people around the world. But this came at a huge price. That's why we've decided to reach out and ask for your help. Today, we're launching a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter ... We need to raise at least $15,000 in order to launch BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* internationally, most importantly in the United States, the home of the people who tried to silence us (Source: Gertten 2012a, np link). 

With no money it's hard to launch a film. It's like giving before you even started. So, donations will help us keep fighting. Fredrik and I keep travelling with the film. We love to meet the audience, the festival pays for travels and hotels, but we still need to pay salaries and all other overhead costs at the company. It's costly to have a successful film, that you want to see travel the world. If we don't raise any money for our outreach, we risk having a film done that can't be seen in the world because there was no money to distribute it. The message will be lost and Dole will have won the fight in the long run (Source: Jangård in Kamlert 2012a, np link).

[T]he obligatory 'errors & omissions insurance' alone will cost us a fortune! And without insurance[, there’s] no distribution (Source: Gertten 2012a, np link). 

We need all the support we can get. If you would like to help financially, you can make a donation … on our website. If you don't feel like donating, there is still a lot you can do. Go and see the film in cinemas, and bring your friends … Or tell your friends to buy a DVD, when they become available. You can help us by spreading the word about us, tweet about us and tell friends and colleagues about us. There's a lot you can do … (Source: Kamlert 2012a, np link).

… [like] sharing the trailer, signing up for volonteer work. We also need your opinions and experience of corporations attacking their critics, shooting the messengers (Source: Gertten 2011c, np link).

We [also] hope that the audience will help us now, by showing up in numbers at the theatres (Source: Gertten in Kamlert 2012a, np link).

Time to go West, to my very first Sundance Film Festival. Flying out today: Copenhagen, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and then a shuttle up to Park City. My schedule is booked: screenings, parties and morning radio-shows! Friday will see our very first US screening of BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*. Remembering the L.A. Film Festival premiere of BANANAS!* … the butterflies will be there. But my lawyer Lincoln Bandlow will be there with me. Feels good, and safe. Our Kickstarter campaign has taken off in a very positive way. Soon 6,000 dollars, after only six days. There's still way to go before we reach our target of 15,000 dollars. If we don't get there, no money will be transferred. … Remember this not only a campaign for funding a film, it's also an outreach campaign. We want this film to be seen all over the world (Source: Gertten 2012b, np link).

Many great filmmakers are presenting their work here at Sundance. So you never know how your own film will be recieved. Arriving at the Prospector theatre for the very first U.S. screening of BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*, I was a bit nervous. Yet the festival is so professional, you really feel welcome and safe. Projection and sound are perfect. Respect! When my film was starting to roll I could finally lean back and enjoy it. And the audience did so, too. They were laughing. Some booed, upset by the big boys' behavior … I've been to many film festivals, but I think I've never experienced a better audience, or a better reception of a film I had done. It's a strong feeling (Source: Gertten 2012c, np link).

[This is] probably the most important movie here at Sundance, and one that's been selling out every screening, and closing out with three-minute long standing ovations (Source: Monk 2012b, p.D8).

The standing ovations were crazy. How do you handle that? Well, yes, I decided to just enjoy (Source: Gertten 2012c, np link).

After [this] screening, an American journalist told a Swedish radio reporter: 'I was crying. The support the filmmakers got from Sweden - so beautiful. And we American journalists always know who pays our salaries. We could never go against the sponsors of our media' … The reception here at Sundance is a good indication that this film will travel the world. And now people will also look out for my previous film BANANAS!* which they can find on Netflix, iTunes, Distrify, and many other platforms. Finally, the story I wanted to tell orginially is reaching people now: the very story of the banana workers who paid with their health for giving us a banana a day (Source: Gertten 2012c, np link).

UK distributor Dogwoof has acquired … Big Boys Gone Bananas!* … at Sundance [and] also distributed Gertten's Bananas!* in 2010. … Gertten said of the deal:  'Dogwoof were brave enough to pick up the first film [Bananas!*] when we were under fire, for which we are very proud - we are delighted to work with a team who know that to get docs out there in the current marketplace, you need to be both smart and creative’ (Source: Anon 2012c, np).

Internationally, the film's festival life is gearing up (Source: Jones 2012a, np link).

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* will be shown on 38 screens in Sweden in the coming month. The launch has already started with great film parties together with our friends at Doc Lounge in Malmö, Lund, Stockholm and Göteborg … (Source: Jones 2012a, np link).

… [with] live music, DJs and huge crowds of enthusiastric audiences (Source: Gertten 2012d, np link).

[T]he reviews flooded in. And we can proudly announce that they're really good. We are at the very top of the Swedish critics' list, with the highest score. Average 4.0 out of 5. Really cool (Source: Gertten 2012d, np link).

[T]he film opens in 14 theatres that will play the film commercially [and, five days later,] there will be a live broadcast from Malmö to 18 cinemas around the country. The audience can send text messages with questions to the director Fredrik Gertten and his lawyer Lincoln Bandlow (Source: Jones 2012a, np link).

Together, [Lincoln and I] attended two public screenings in Stockholm and Lund. But the most important event was a screening in the Swedish Parliament. The screening room was jam-packed, over 100 in a small room, including the Minister of Culture and many other national VIPs. Lincoln Bandlow gave a speech to the members of parliament. He started quite gently, but soon he was banging his hand on the table, thinking of Dole's attack free speech. We had invited one of the country's top lobbyists for a debate. I asked for transparency: 'Why can't the PR and lobby industry disclose who they work for?' The debate was over quite soon. Lobbyists know that transparancy is a debate they should avoid. It's bad for business. So as you all can see, we're working hard, but meeting our audience is a sweet thing, and the response is strong (Source: Gertten 2012d, np link).

I've been doing interviews almost every day. I was booked for two morning TV shows the very day Sweden got a new crown princess-to-be. Of course, the media went crazy, and I was kicked out of the TV4 show. A bit frustrating, since I had got up at 5.30, shaved and showered - my first thought: 'Well done, Dole!' The SVT morning show did allow for a short slot for me. … [And] TV4 invited me for a second time (Source: Gertten 2012d, np link).

The film gets invites from festivals all over the world. It just played at Zagreb Docs in Croatia. One World in Prague and Cine Punta in Uruguay are next (Source: Gertten 2012d, np link).

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* will have its UK festival premiere this week – the film is screening at Sheffield Doc / Fest on June 14th and 16th and Fredrik Gertten will be present for Q&A's following both screenings … On Friday 15th June, Fredrik is also part of a panel called Story Leads to Action at Sheffield Doc / Fest, discussing how to reach target audiences with help from NGOs and corporate brands. If you're not in Sheffield, don't despair - Fredrik will come to London for a Masterclass at the Frontline Club on Wednesday June 20th, followed by a preview screening and Q&A at the Curzon Soho on Thursday 21st of June. This London Q&A will also have two very special guests - stars of the film Sven Hughes and Tim Burt will join Fredrik on stage: Sven Hughes is a strategic communications advisor and founder of the world's first dedicated verbalisation agency. His current and former clients include Prime Ministers, CEOs, militaries and royal households. Sven argues for increased legislation within the commercial stratcoms industry. Tim Burt is Managing Director of StockWell, which he joined from Brunswick, the international advisory firm, where he oversaw sectors including media, technology and automotive. Tim was formerly an award-winning journalist at the Financial Times, where he spent 16 years in several senior editorial roles (Source: Jones 2012b, np link).

Today the film premieres in Italy on the 30th Bellaria Doc Film Festival in Bellaria, near Rimini. We really hope the Italian audience likes the film as much as the Italian jury did, when it was rewarded for Best International Documentary & Best Film at MIFF Awards in Milano last month. Fredrik was present at the award ceremony and received a beautiful horse statue for his work (Source: Jones 2012c, np link).

[T]he film has received many prizes and great recognition from both jurys and audience. It won the Audience Award and The Rudolf Vrba Jury Award at One World Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. It also won Best Documentary at Sarasota Film Festival in Florida, US. Among the audience it became the favourite at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, US and second favourite at Hot Docs in Toronto, Canada, where over 150 films [were] shown (Source: Jones 2012d, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* hits theatres in New York City and Los Angeles this summer - for one week only! Make sure you don't miss it … For these exclusive screenings director Fredrik will be present, and we have also invited some very special friends to join us. With us in New York we have Academy Award Nominees Joe Berlinger and Morgan Spurlock and also Leslie Wayne from 100 Reporters. In Los Angeles we are honoured to have filmmakers Ondi Timoner and Lucy Walker moderate conversations and Q&A:s with filmmaker Fredrik Gertten and lawyer Lincoln Bandlow (Source: Kamlert 2012b, np link).

I am so grateful and honored to have my US filmmaking colleagues join me in these events where we can discuss freedom of speech, corporate intimidation and the future of making non-fiction films (Source: Gertten in Jones 2012e, np link).

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* will open wider through USA later this fall. After an intense but wonderful stay, BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* and Fredrik Gertten is in New Zealand and then off to Australia where the film has been officially selected to screen at Melbourne International Film Festival August 2-19 (Source: Gertten in Jones 2012e, np link).

Now we [are] sell[ing]n both films BANANAS!* (2009) and BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* (2012) at a cheap package price in our webshop. Buy both films for 25 EUR (Source: Jones 2012f, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is hitting UK and Irish cinemas on September 21st and Fredrik Gertten will be coming over to the UK for the release. Dochouse will be hosting a special preview Q&A screening with Fredrik and Sven Hughes and chaired by Jen Robinson on Tuesday 18th September at 6.30pm at the Prince Charles Cinema in London. … Jen Robinson is Director of Legal Advocacy at the Bertha Foundation. She is a media and human rights lawyer who has previously advised clients such as WikiLeaks, NYTimes, Bloomberg, Associated Press, CNN, Human Rights Watch and Global Witness. Her work advising NGOs demonstrates the chilling impact of powerful individuals and corporations threatening libel suits (Source: Jones 2012g, np link).

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* returns to the US after the premiere at the prestegious Sundance Film Festival in January. On Thursday April 12 the film begins its three week tour and the first screening is set to Yale University in New Haven, followed by Sarasota Film Festival, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durhamn and The Washington DC International Film Festival. In the beginning of May the film premieres in Canada at Hot Docs in Toronto followed by DOXA in Vancouver. Director Fredrik Gertten will attend all screenings (Source: Jones 2012h, np link).

From 1 of September to 31 of October you can watch BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* on Air Canada. The genre of documentaries is growing stronger, now we hope other airlines will get inspired. Let's hope Scandinavian airlines will follow (Source: Jones 2012i, np link)!

After the successful screenings at Nordisk Panorama 5 Cities Film Festival this weekend, BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* is ready for national broadcast in Finland tonight (27/9). This will be the first screening on television since SVT (Swedish national television) in May. This morning the director Fredrik Gertten recived a snow dump of press clippings from Finnish newspapers announcing the big premiere (Source: Sundbeck 2013a, np link).

One year after the world premiere at IDFA, Amsterdam, BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* goes on tour in the Netherlands. Movies that matter organize a one month tour to fifteen cities with start Sunday the 4th of November (Source: Sundbeck 2012b, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* first US broadcast [is] on December 1. 20 million americans can watch the movie on DirecTV AUDIENCE Network. The show also includes an exclusive interview with director Fredrik Gertten (Source: Sundbeck 2013c, np link).

'The fact that this film has gotten such a good run is satisfying not only for the original Bananas!* film, but just for free speech, period,' says [producer Bart] Simpson. 'To see people really embrace it has been very satisfying.' And this time, Gertten says, they haven't heard from Dole (Source: Lederman 2012, np link).

In January Big Boys Gone Bananas!* will be a part of the screening network The Documentary of the Month …, a network consisting of approximately 40 venues all around Spain, Chile and Argentina. It was initiated by production and distribution company Parallel40, with the aim of bringing documentary films closer to the people. This month Big Boys Gone Bananas!* will be screening as The Documentary of the Month in 27 venues throughout Spain, starting the 8th. Some of the screenings are for free (Source: Sundbeck 2013d, np link)!

The 16th Edition of DocsBarcelona International Documentary Film Festival will take place from the 28th of May to the 2nd of June, and will include two screenings each of both Bananas!* and Big Boys Gone Bananas!*. Fredrik will be there for question and answer sessions after each screening and will also teach a special master class, From Bananas! to Big Boys Gone Bananas! … (Source: Sundbeck 2013a, np link).

Now the tour continues to Chile! The first screening will be held in Santiago the 16th of April followed by a Q&A with director Fredrik Gertten. The tour continues for two weeks with screenings also in Valparaíso, Panguipulli, Puerto Montt and Valdívia (Source: Sundbeck 2013v, np link).

BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* and BANANAS!* [are] on russian television 24Doc tomorrow January 19 (Source: Sundbeck 2013e, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* will be screened at this years San Francisco Green Festival on the 4th of June and will be followed by a discussion on media censorship. The conversation will be led by Stephen Talbot, Senior Producer of iFiles Channel at the Center for Investigative Reporting (Source: Sundbeck 2013a, np link).

And for UK fans, there will be two chances in June to see Big Boys Gone Bananas!* on the big screen. The first on the 6th of June in London and the second on the 8th of June in Cardiff. Both will be shown during the UK Green Film Festival (Source: Sundbeck 2013a, np link).

After [a] successful tour through Chile in April, director Fredrik Gertten now visits again, with screenings of Big Boys Gone Bananas!* in Santiago and Valparaiso. The film will screen once in each city, starting tomorrow July 2nd at Bar The Clinic, Santiago. Later Fredrik will continue to Peru with both films. There will be screenings in Lima, Arequipa and Iquitos. After the Lima screenings Fredrik will be present for a Q&A with the audience (Source: Sundbeck 2013b, np link).

Big Boys Gone Bananas has been screened worldwide and has been one of the most popular and widely screened documentaries of the 2012/2013 film season (Source: Anon 2013, np link).

In America, it received little coverage. The kind of story you'd believe would make front-page headlines in a country that calls itself the greatest in the world was shoved to the side collectively, without a trace (Source: StevePulaski 2013, np link).

Join Fredrik Gertten tomorrow evening for Connectors Malmö's screening of Bananas!* at the Garaget. Make sure to stay after the screening for a discussion on the film, along with fika and Dole-free banana smoothies (Source: Ritter 2014d, np link).

Looking for a way to watch Big Boys Gone Bananas!* online? We have good news for our friends in the United States. The film is now available to watch on Netflix (Source: Ritter 2014a, np link)!

Fredrik is in Podgorica, Montenegro this week for the Embassy of Sweden's Svedska@ME, a Swedish promotion event in Montenegro which includes several activities, mainly a Swedish film week. This afternoon, Fredrik is following a screening of Big Boys Gone Bananas!* with a discussion on freedom of expression. The Embassy of Sweden will be live streaming the talk on Bambuser at 17.45 (Source: Ritter 2014b, np link).

On July 7th, 2009, shortly after the world premiere of Fredrik Gertten's Bananas!*, Dole fruit company filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against WG Film, Gertten and producer Margarete Jangård. The lawsuit claimed that the film defamed Dole. It was 5 years ago today, after a long and exhausting fight, that a LA judge ruled in favor of WG Film (Source: Ritter 2015, np link).

It's so good to see that people still want to screen 'BANANAS!*' and 'BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS' around the world! Here is a list of the upcoming screenings of both films in September and October: 19-25 september: 'BANANAS!*' and 'BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS' at Swedish Film Festival in Japan! … 20 september: 'BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS' in Bonn …  3 october: 'BANANAS!*' in Barcelona. … 3-10 october: 'BANANAS!*' and 'BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS' at  ZIFFT [the Zimbabwe International Film Festival] … 13 october: 'BANANAS!*' in Duluth, MN … [where i]t will be a part of an environmentally conscious doc series that will happen on Tuesdays throughout the Fall (Source: Hoberg 2015, np link).

Bananas!* and Big Boys Gone Bananas!* will soon head to Japanese cinemas after being picked up by film distribuor Kirokubito. Fredrik Gertten will travel to Tokyo next week to help promote the film (Source: Ritter 2016, np link).

Gertten [says]: 'I've gotten amazing reviews for my film, but many of those same reviews will say 'This is a very important film'. Who wants to see an important film? People want to be entertained. Reviewers tend to underline the 'important' stuff instead of talking about the storytelling - which is a bit frustrating.' … 'Well,' added Gertten, 'Like I said, I get so many top grade reviews but many of them are very boring texts. I think that's a crisis for documentary films that the reviewers want to be so on the course with the subject matter rather than on the filmmaking. When people read that a film is important, they will sometimes even take that at face value. A critic tells a little bit about the story, goes blah-blah-blah about the issues and it ends up with people coming up to me and saying: 'Oh this was a very important film! Congratulations Fredrik!' I'll then ask, 'Have you seen the film?' And the response is often, 'Oh no, not yet, but you did a great job.' People forget that a film is not a tweet, its not an article, it's not a thesis or an op-ed. A film is actually an emotional experience. If you do a film well, it stays with you …' (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

When they enter a grocery store they don't want to buy sprayed bananas or when they open a newspaper they ask if an op-ed has been planted by a P.R. firm. If my films can make that happen within people then that's great (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a, np link). 

Discussion / Responses

This is a very important film (Source: karlericsson 2012, np link).

[I]t really is frightening viewing (Source: stensson 2012, np link).

[It’s] sobering and insightful (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

Some of [it] … is petrifying, some of it incredibly hopeful, but it's always compulsive viewing (Source: Wall 2013, np link).

[T]he extent to which Dole went to try to keep a journalist from expressing his opinion it truly impressive (Source: Auger 2014, np link).

[It] is feverishly interesting for anyone with a curiosity about business and world events, and how the law can be bent to the advantage of the rich and powerful (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

This is a TERRIFYING documentary about the damage that is achieved on the free speech and free press rights by the country that made those concepts cool in the first place (Source: Jumpy1 2014, np link)! 

Amongst the skyless summits of capitalist bureaucracy flutters creativity that no company can overturn (Source: Watson 2012, np link).

[T]o see a Swedish film maker be immediately targeted by an international mega-corporation for producing a film which documented a court case against them was chilling (Source: Jensen 2014, np link).

Halfway through watching this movie at the Sundance Film Festival …, I found myself turning around to look at the audience. 'Is there a spy from Dole here?' I wondered, the paranoia finally rolling to a boil (Source: Monk 2012a, np link).

Given what I learned in this film, I'm sure that some Dole pr flack will be searching through the Internet to find out who I am. Maybe I'll get a letter that closes with 'Good Luck on Your Finances' (Source: Auger 2014, np link).

When I woke … the movie was over and Fred himself was there in person, deep in conversation with some other concerned individuals about the implications for free speech raised by the film (Source: SWP 2012, np link).

Is there still a place for a free press in what we used to call the First World? Now that some media outlets are owned by the same companies that make corn syrup and warplanes, the concept of news looks largely decorative - a clattering amalgam of gossip and advertising in which sex scandals replace policy discussion (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

[M]uch we need to know is not provided [by traditonal media] because it wouldn't be in the corporate interest. So, attacking and trying to bankrupt a filmmaker for using his First Amendment Rights is a story that people need to see (Source: Jensen 2014, np link).

Dole's pr people - and perhaps the corporation itself - does not believe in the First Amendment. And they're not shy about threatening people who do (Source: Auger 2014, np link).

[B]asically, it could happen to any of us, at any time (Source: Euwens in Gertten 2011c, np link).

[But f]ew of us have been attacked so viciously as Fredrik Gertten and WG Film (Source: Euwens in Gertten 2011c, np link).

The law is obviously not on the side of the poor and free speech is not what we can count on as being the rule. Instead free speech has become the rare exception and a poor individual can just forget about getting his voice heard. This film is about an exception ... (Source: karlericsson 2012, np link).

… [the] lonely warrior …  Fredrik risking his life's work to protect values such as free speech, honesty and truth (Source: Euwens in Gertten 2011c, np link).

[While] Gertten’s bravery to carry out Bananas!* and boldly show it at a film festival was true courage[, m]aking and producing Big Boys Gone Bananas!* was an act of insanity (Source: StevePulaski 2013, np link).

I do wonder how many other artists would bother to persevere in similar circumstances? What Hell the film drags us through is disheartening - even though Gertten's [Bananas!*] movie, after years of struggle - can now be seen. As a filmmaker, I thoroughly commiserated with Mr. Gertten. Years earlier I'd gone through a not dissimilar nightmare over a controversial work I produced and co-wrote. My experience, while horrendous at the time, seems now like kid-stuff compared to the horrors Gertten went through (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

What makes Big Boys remarkable is that it was made at all. It took vision on Gertten's part to realize he could spin the legal tangle of his original doc into a more complex, more personal one. It also demanded that Gertten avoid the easy route - giving up, ever - and defend his work at all costs, risking professional ostracism, strained relationships and bankruptcy. He is willing to go down the rabbit hole, and for that we should be thankful (Source: Teplitsky 2012, np link).

Kudos to such amazing and courageous Director (Source: Machado 2014, np link).

I truly believe that we have in Fredrik Gertten something that all filmmakers should aspire to. … I personally consider Gertten's [two Bananas!* films] …  to be acts of heroism.  … Gertten's stellar work as a storyteller is proof positive that all artists have the potential to be heroes (Source: Klymkiw 2012a, np link).

This … guy wasn't even American; and his entire nation stood up and showed us what the US used to look like through their actions. The film very clearly demonstrates how our American media is failing it's people. We are losing our skepticism and curiosity on those with power (another bad-ass concept the founders of this country did and encouraged). Now we are standing idly by while the victims like the ones in this documentary are by interests that simply don't like what they have to say (Source: Jumpy1 2014, np link). 

I was appalled that [the Los Angeles] film festival would allow itself to be swayed by Dole, a corporate giant so willing to go to any lengths to suppress the truth about its disgusting practices - nefarious activities which resulted in knowingly using a pesticide that caused sterility in the Nicaraguan workers. During our chat, however, Gertten seemed far more charitable than I on this matter and suggested the festival was not necessarily questioning his work or integrity as a filmmaker, but in believing the Dole arguments wished not only to protect themselves, but Gertten - believing that he had been duped by his subjects into presenting blatant falsehoods as fact. Honest to Christ! I can't ever imagine being so gracious. I was even more appalled that all the major corporate sponsors of the film festival were swallowing Dole's rancid geysers of spurious cum so willingly, so greedily - especially since the sponsors included many leading lights of the entertainment business who should have been more than happy to rally in Gertten's defence. Gertten, however, revealed to me that the corporate sponsors weren't all against him and notes that it was a clear 50/50 split in terms of those who wanted to back him and those who didn’t. As far as I'm concerned, the 50% who didn't support Gertten at the time are the lowest, bottom feeding scum - or in the words of the late, great, Johnny Cash - they're lower than a 'dirty, old, egg-sucking hound' (Source: Klymkiw 2012a , np link).

The wonderful and courageous thing that Fredrik Gertten and WG Film demonstrate with this documentary is that we - the 99% - do have the right and the power to question the inequalities and injustices on our planet, to fight the odds even when the opposition owns the bank, the judge and the media (Source: Euwens in Gertten 2011c, np link).

This film is about an exception, which was made possible because a giant corporation went too far too fast, so that even the dumbest amongst politicians understood that the line of the ridiculous had been crossed (Source: karlericsson 2012, np link).

Bananas!* is a very complex story, but the bottom line for me is very simple - we see the faces of the people who pick our bananas and we understand they have been suffering and now we wonder, 'What banana should I buy?' Big Boys Go Bananas!* is also a very complex story, but in the end, the bottom line is very simple - 'Are you in favour of democracy? Are you in favour of free media?' Well then, don't sue filmmakers. Don't suppress them with your P.R. machine. If you want to be a part of society, then respect the rules of society. This goes for any corporation. You can't talk about democracy and fight it at the same time - which Dole did with me (Source: Gertten in Klymkiw 2012a , np link).

Highlighting the insane amounts of influence that multi-nationals wield, it is at times a terrifying glimpse into the way life could be if we, as a collection of oft-disinterested or apathetic individuals, don't start being more proactive in making ourselves heard (Source: Wall 2013, np link).

[Yes, but t]he aesthetic is limited, bordering on tedious, as low-key and inoffensive as Gertten himself (Source: Kissick Jones 2012, np link).

A few too many scenes of shaky split-screen Skype chats with overseas lawyers and production partners slow the narrative somewhat - viewers might crave more exotic banana-plantation footage from the original doc instead - and point, perhaps, to the budget constraints of a filmmaker feeling the squeeze (Source: Teplitsky 2012, np link).

Unfortunately [Gertten’s] struggle lacked dramatic interest after the first 20 minutes and, as is often the case with these things, my mind turned to the film I would rather have been watching. Instead of Fred's reasonable pursuit of the truth I wanted to see him shadow the high profile CEO of the Dole Company with long lenses, or employ some teenage computer whizz to hack into their websites. Maybe even hire Dolph Lundgren to commit a daring raid on their headquarters in the dead of night. For reasons I will outline below I wanted vengeance served raw (Source: SWP 2012, np link).

There are … some frustrating assertions about the importance of boycotting a product based on hearsay, with Swedish grocers and fast-food retailers raising a stink about the product when the drama about Bananas was running rampant through their media. … Fortunately these idealistic biases are balanced by some of the more amusing and childish tactics taken by Dole. Many of their letters and legal documents feature sarcastic threats like, 'good luck with your finances,' and actually equate Gertten's shitty and arbitrary documentary to Nazi propaganda (Source: Bell 2012, np link).

Gertten spends much of the film with a hangdog look and stooped shoulders … (Source: Kissick Jones 2012, np link).

… [and seems to be an] amusingly unflappable and altogether decent bloke … (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

[But, w]hile it never seems like a put-on, it is decidedly dull … (Source: Kissick Jones 2012, np link).

… monotonous … self-centered … and self-serving (Source: Abrams 2012, np link).

[H]is tone is that of a truth-teller being bullied … (Source: THR Staff 2012, np link).

… [and] everything inevitably comes back to the self-aggrandizing Gerhart [Gertten?] (Source: Rabin 2012, np link).

[W]ell no. He happens to be the main subject of the movie and lawsuits on the documentary in question (Source: Jumpy1 2014, np link).

[B]y plastering his face across nearly every frame, [he is] serving more than just the interests of disenfranchised Nicaraguan fruit pickers … (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

… [so,] you really start to question whether there’s an ulterior agenda at play here (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

The sweet irony for Bananas!* was that the publicity drummed up by Gertten’s legal battle untimately ensured that his film reached a much wider audience than it otherwise would have … (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

… [and] Big Boys Gone Bananas!* implicitly asks us to accept its version of the story just as uncritically as Dole asked the press to swallow its self-serving spin [about Bananas!*] (Source: Rabin 2012, np link).

Forced to take the director's word that he's in the right (despite a court ruling to the contrary), we're free to embrace the idea of free speech as an abstract concept - without sufficient understanding of the knotty specifics of this highly individualized case (Source: Schenker 2012, np link).

Maintaining [a] focus on the increasingly absurd events [after Bananas!*’s premiere at LAFF], Gertten doesn't make the background of the earlier film, including allegations of fraud against the workers' L.A. attorney, entirely clear (Source: Linden 2012, np link).

It isn't surprising that Dole would object to a film they hadn't seen - ask any number of auteurs who've provoked the Catholic Church (Source: THR Staff 2012, np link).

[Ironically], had the bureaucrats and journalists … [interviewed in Big Boys] taken an hour to watch the actual film before getting up in arms, they might have seen how pointless the entire debate actually was. Of course, then we wouldn't get to see the hilarity of lawyers and politicians debating the artistic intent of film (Source: Bell 2012, np link).

[In Big Boys] Gertten never adequately addresses the legal issues at stake (Source: Schenker 2012, np link).

Viewers see very little of the original [Bananas!*] film and Dole's reason for the lawsuit is not explored in depth (Source: VonAncken 2013, np link)

[Big Boys] doesn't dig down deep into the substance of Dole's claims against the Los Angeles-based lawyer who brought the lawsuit on behalf of the Nicaraguan workers, except to note he was eventually cleared of all charges by the California State Bar (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

[It] barely touches on the …  Tellez v. Dolecase at all, never providing enough information to make any kind of accurate conclusion about [it], and that is exactly the point: the legal aspects are merely tangential to the film's true focus (Source: Kissick Jones 2012, np link).

Gertten spends much of Big Boys Gone Bananas!* documenting his increasingly public struggle to get [Bananas!*] … shown. But in the process, he conveniently omits the fact that the Tellez v. Dole case was dismissed in March 2011 because the Nicaraguan plaintiffs did in fact submit false testimony. Although the film fashions Dole's attempts to silence Gertten as a prime example of a greedy corporation squashing a humble, unbiased truth-teller, Gertten's points about the way corporations use the media to squash negative publicity is directly undermined by his own lack of transparency and his refusal to give a proper context for Dole's complaints. … Unlike Bananas!*, which Gertten repeatedly claims is a relatively unbiased documentary, Big Boys Gone Bananas!* marginalizes the voices of almost everyone, save for Gertten's. And without much feedback from the Nicaraguan workers or the Dole representatives whom Gertten is combating, Big Boys Gone Bananas!* comes across as just a reductive and uninformative piece of agitprop (Source: Abrams 2012, np link).

[It]makes a damning case against Dole as a corporate bully eager to silence criticism, but it raises troubling questions about the veracity of its own case it frustratingly has no interest in answering (Source: Rabin 2012, np link).

[So, t]he film's protests of censorship ring hollow given its selective version of the truth (Source: Abrams 2012, np link).

[It] seems pre-occupied with raising its own profile through constant self-reflexivity, while being far less interested in thoroughly scrutinising the bullying brand tactics employed by faceless corporate giants (Source: Woodward 2012, 88 link).

[And i]t certainly favors those predisposed to be distrustful of corporate agendas (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

[Its] unambiguous David-versus-Goliath framework allows Gertten to indulge in the pesky habit of preaching to the choir. 'Boycott Dole!' stands ready as the knee-jerk response. … [The film’s] very tone and tectonics encourage this kind of hasty and uncritical corporate-bashing, especially given Gertten's eventual victory over the Dole lawsuit, an inoculation of 'the little man ultimately triumphs' that effectively preempts viewers' investigation into their own participation in larger structures of power (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

A bit less preaching to the choir and a bit more clarification … would make 'Big Boys Gone Bananas!*' even more engaging and powerful (Source: Simon 2012, np link).

I slipped out of the Prince Charles cinema quickly, overwhelmed by the stench of rising smugness (Source: SWP 2012, np link).

Ultimately, it's a moot point whether or not such critical sentiments are deserved (it's hard to argue that Dole acted contemptibly); the issue remains that this variety of faux-populism seems better suited to the soapbox than the silver screen (Source: Wilkins 2012, np link).

The critics who rated this movie [badly] are the most special type of douche bags IMHO. The film is really an 8 or a 9, but I need to offset the mostly flimsy arguments made for such low ratings, which really amounts to another total corporate hand-job the movie portrays the media regularly doing. And even more ironically, these critics exercising the same rights this movie effectively points out are under great threat, when someone with money doesn't like what you have to say. Where's the solidarity boys and girls (Source: Jumpy1 2014, np link)?

'[A]stroturfing' … is often seen on websites like IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, in terms of the film world, where accounts are made by representatives or marketers of the film, who feel that they need to establish completely fake reviews talking about a film (usually one that has been panned or will likely be) in a glowingly positive light. They're a tad difficult to spot, but when you see one with flattery and buzz words over content and substance, chances are, it may be an act of product-astroturfing. In the media world, it is when articles or responses are usually concocted in the same ingenious way as writing reviews. It's a disgusting little tactic, but it has gained immense popularity for its ability to sway people (Source: StevePulaski 2013, 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. This Ideological One-sided Biased was a waste of my time on netflix. I hope they sue the Filmmakers even more and anyone else having to do with it (Source: López 2013, np link).

With a piddling preface, this is the same text you put up as a 'review' of an entirely different film [called Bananas!*]. The gist of the matter is clearly not writing a critical review of this or that film or book or whatever, but a projection of your vicious views on human beings and society (Source: J.J. 2014, np link).

Incorrect, I have seen both Propaganda pieces (Source: López 2014, np link).

I didn't say I didn't believe you had seen both. My point was that you have clearly emitted a mere propaganda belch, rather than an intelligent respone to either film. You clearly despise anyone who questions authority, even when they are defending themselves by doing so, and proceed to slander them, in your ignorant bumptious way. Why? And why do fire off both barrels of your backwoods shotgun, undifferentiated, at two entirely different intellectual products (Source: J.J. 2014, np link: search for López’s review on our Bananas!* page here)?

[Y]ou pretend to be this indie anti-coperation [company] yet you want me to buy (pay) for this documentary. If its really important for you to spread the word you should at least make it free in the country of the creator (Sweden) this is tragi-comic (Source: pontificator 2013, np link).

I'm happy to pay for a film I want to see. What's wrong with getting paid for your work (Source: Wheelaghan 2013, np link)???

[D]onating to indie film makers is not uncommon, how else are they to get financial support?? advertising (Source: thanos 2013, np link)?

It takes abt 2-5min to find a stream or torrent upload of the movie (Source: pontificator 2013, np link).

Making documentaries like these is months and sometimes even years of hard work. If they don't get the funds they can't make the movies. Try and make a film yourself and give it away for free… Support the great journalist and filmmakers of our time. It's important (Source: ToNi0 .RuMoEr 2016, np link).

[That’s what can happen when films made by] documentary filmmakers operating beyond the realm of normal media [end up] back in the sacred marketplace, where everything is supposed to happen, now that the words capitalism and democracy have become ickily interchangeable (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

[But, even t]hough this story ended well, it is important to continue the discussion on what is affecting the creation of media content and how new media technology can be used in the development of an alternative media. Then in the future, maybe this alternative media can be a counterweight to the traditional media, producing news outside the organisational structure (Source: Bergenfelz 2012, np link).

[Take] Russia's Pussy Riot show trial and the whistle-blowing cases of U.S. soldier Bradley Manning and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speak to the media-industrial complex's kill-the-messenger approach. [Gertten says] 'This attempt to use ridicule, and then law, to stop someone from telling the truth, or even just a version of the truth, is extremely disheartening. What can be a more classic case of free speech than a punk band making noise in a church? .… Now, Assange might not be a perfect human being, but this isn't really about his sex life, and everyone knows it. Perhaps the Swedish authorities are acting in good faith, and it's just a coincidence that their actions serve another purpose.' While one can advance the merits of the various arguments in both [of Gertten’s Banana] films, few would agree that the best approach is to stop the discussion entirely. 'We've seen the psyche of the corporation, and it's often not such a beautiful one. I'm not saying that Dole is evil because they wanted to keep using a pesticide that was banned; it's just that they wanted to keep the system going, to save money. That's all. But more and more,[' Gertten says, ']they also think they are whole countries, sending their envoys to intimidate, say, the Swedish parliament or the U.S. Congress' (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

[So, it’s b]usiness as usual. No longer. We, the people, demand a better world for all (Source: Euwens in Gertten 2011c, np link)

We the people, ha ha, need to know! Transparency is important in society (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

[W]e should ask for some sort of legislation around the PR industry (Source: O’key 2012, np link).

In this case, … David does win. … [But] Goliath lost on points, [and] lives on in good health (Source: French 2012, np link).

The lawsuit is settled, the films have been seen, but the work is not done! Dole still thrives as the 'world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables' and behind much of the fruit on our grocery store shelves is the mistreatment of human beings (Source: Ritter 2015, np link).

In the decade when American corporations were granted the right to make political donations under the First Amendment (yes, the Amendments reserved for people) this film is not just relevant, but should be compulsory watching for anyone with a passing interest in our future (Source: Wall 2013, np link).

The film empowers citizen reporters, investigative journalists and the society to investigate wrongdoings and get involved in cross border issues. This film should be for sure screened in journalism schools (Source: Milashina in Kamlert 2012c, np link).

[It] should be compulsory viewing for any wannabe documentary filmmaker embarking on their investigative opus without a fear in the world (Source: Adams 2011, np link).

I … recommend it to everyone especially people starting out into the business world  (Source: twofootthree 2013, np link).

[It] would be useful in a variety of classes, including journalism, film, law, business, ethics and environmental policy (Source: Anon nde, np link).

I bought [the DVD] for use in a course on persuasion and propaganda and just hope my students find it as enlightening as I did when it comes to the power Corporations wield over communications (Source: Marnina 2015, np link).

The bottom line is that when artists are under attack, we are all under attack (Source: Klymkiw 2012b, np link).

The lasting legacy of 'Big Boys Gone Bananas!*' may be that viewers never look the same way again at online reviews, business journalism or purportedly objective chat (Source: Anderson 2012, np link).

We need to discuss … [where] neo-liberal economics have led us … [w]ithout somebody trying to prevent us (Source: stensson 2012, np link).

[It m]akes you think about how many other food companies are lying to you and getting away with it with their big lawyers (Source: CJ 2015, np link)!

Next: Monsanto (Source: Stapleton 2019, np link)!

[But they] will be better prepared next time - be sure of it (Source: karlericsson 2012, np link)! 

Please support this movie, this director and this production company any way you can. It is not just his future or their future at stake, it is our future (Source: Euwens in Gertten 2011c, np link).

And buy fairtrade (Source: ToNi0 .RuMoEr 2016, np link).

Outcomes / Impacts

Fear works. There were times when we were frightened [making the Bananas!* films] … But having gone through what we've gone through … and won, I am fearless (Source: Gertten in Monk 2012b, p.D8).

'Nothing more has happened,' explains Gertten, talking with weary satisfaction …, from Seoul, South Korea, where the film is getting a festival debut. 'They are professionals at Dole. They came after me when that was their decision, and they dropped the matter when it became clear that their intimidation wouldn't work. I have no reason to believe they will bother me again' (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

Bananas!* and Big Boys Gone Bananas!* continue to screen, now having played in over 80 countries. The sale of FairTrade bananas and products in general has skyrocketed across the world. In Sweden, FairTrade banana sales increased by 600% between 2010 and 2014. FairTrade Sweden CEO Morgan Zerne praised all media attention that is putting a human face behind the fruit sold in our supermarkets, where the film Bananas!* is a good example. The lawsuit is settled, the films have been seen, but the work is not done! … Do your part by continuing to buy FairTrade and encouraging others to as well (Source: Ritter 2015, np link).

Last week Fredrik Gertten received the prize 'Blåslampan' from The Swedish Consumers' Association with the motivation that his films spotlighted big companies power, guilt and responsibility (Source: Sundbeck 2013c, np link).

Fredrik Gertten received quite the warm welcome this morning at hotel Scandic Malmen [Hotel] in Stockholm - A nice big bowl of bananas. Dole bananas. Needless to say, not his usual choice for breakfast. In the hotel's defense, they were quick to apologize for their unfortunate choice of fruit and promised to have 'nice' bananas waiting for him tomorrow. Unfortunately, we're all bound to be bombarded by Dole bananas at one place or another. But it doesn't have to be that way! The next time you visit a hotel, grocery store, cafe, etc. that has Dole products, tell them you won't eat them and neither should anyone else. Hopefully, like Scandic Malmen, they'll come to their senses and replace them with Fairtrade and organic fruit. Now there's something worth eating for breakfast! *UPDATE* We're happy to say that Scandic Sverige (the largest hotel chain in Sweden) went through with their promise. The next morning, Fredrik was served Fairtrade bananas. And now, the hotel has promised that if they can't serve eco or Fairtrade, they won't serve any bananas at all. Way to go, Scandic (Source: Ritter 2014c, np link)!

Last month a man who wishes to be anonymous, donated 100,000 SEK (around 11,500 EUR) to WG Film. He was very moved after watching BANANAS!* and BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* and decided he wanted to help us in the making of new documentaries. A contribution that was moving, and needed (Source: Jones 2012j, no link)!

[Gertten’s] next feature will [not] be The Dole Ultimatum. As a change of pace, in fact, he recently shot an amusing short about the invention of the invisible bicycle helmet. You can bet he'll be wearing one when he makes his next movie, whatever it is (Source: Eisner 2012, np link).

Bart [Simpson] is recovering … [and is] shifting his beady eye as a director on the city of Brasilia. He may be looking at architecture and urban planning, but he's really thinking about people and their fight to impose their human will onto a city that was built and planned omitting residents' needs. Over the next few months, Bart will creatively explore [De] Certeau’s concept of 'space being a practiced place'. All of these actions are rather invisible - another challenge to the language of documentary (Source: Mendelle 2012, np link).

WG Film is now working on Fredrik’s new project, BIKES vs CARS, which investigates the daily global drama in traffic around the world and the lobbying behind it (Source: Ritter 2014a, np link). 

Gertten drew inspiration from his media battle with Dole also during the making of the Bikes vs. Cars (2015) about environment-friendly bike transport. He and his team launched another crowdfunding campaign, so far raising over 100,000 dollars. 'Such campaigns should not be underestimated and have to be well prepared. This time, our goal was 50,000 dollars. We started to prepare the campaign several months in advance. And although the journalists asked about my next film, I refused to talk about it until the first press conference where we unveiled our project. We launched our campaign a month later. It is crucial that people you ask money from have already heard about your activity and are familiar with it,' he continues. According to Gertten, it is necessary to always come with … new stories if you work with crowdfunding. 'Our Facebook was daily fed with new posts. We had one person working part-time for us even before the start of our campaign. When the campaign set off, it was keeping the six people busy for the entire forty days of the campaign,' said Gertten describing the workload. Gertten's team asked all associations interested in the issue of transportation infrastructure and bicycle traffic for interviews. 'The key is not to be shy. If you have enough enthusiasm for your thing and if you believe in it, nobody thinks you are spamming them, on the contrary,' recommends Gertten. The required fifty thousand dollars were eventually collected five days before the end of the campaign, so the team added one more trick - they posted on Kickstarter that although the campaign was coming to an end, people could contribute directly on their website. This decision helped them to raise over one hundred thousand dollars. The campaign also used the voices of Swedish celebrities, although not as its main driving force. Gertten believes that it only takes passion and fresh energy to produce a successful campaign. 'We also had some supporters and reputation thanks to our previous project, which, however, accounted for no more than, I'd say, twenty per cent. All the rest is fresh energy. We gained many supporters who hadn't known us and hadn't heard of Bananas!*. It's not about being famous,' continues Gertten. Bikes vs. Cars also managed to obtain funding from various grants. Kickstarter only covered 10% of the requisite finances. Its major plus consists in the fact that you get the money when you need it, whereas most of the organisations pay various grants after the project is finished. Crowdfunding can provide at least a good financial boost (Source: Anon 2016, np link).

[Gertten’s] previous filmmaking experience and the battle with Dole Food Company also inspired [him] in other than transmedia areas. 'I long wanted to shoot a film about bikes, but I didn't know how to approach it. The idea of the bicycle movement is great, but it was lacking the drama - up to the moment when Big Boys Gone Bananas!* made me change the perspective. Cities brimming with cars are not the result of a natural development. There's a big lobby and huge investments behind this progress. I started to see how many obstacles cyclists and activists have to face. I wanted to produce a film that would provide urban planners and activists with further insight into what they are doing and why they are failing in their efforts, who their opponents are and why. Lobbying is a powerful instrument. If you want to change something, you have to understand and grasp the power of lobbying. There are no related studies, lobbying is not taught at schools, but it's a world-transforming force. Bikes vs. Cars thus works as a crucial revelation,' says Gertten (Source: Anon 2016, np link).

Engagement with our community is a huge priority for us. Our work with outreach has become a critical component of our company. We have built up a community of over 50,000 people. By keeping our audience close, we get inspiration and energy back, something that is really needed in the documentary 'business' where money is never easy to attain (Source: WG Films nd, np link).

During the shooting of the film, he managed to build a community of viewers, activists and supporters thus gaining another advantage. Direct communication with the audience can bring not only finances, but it will also help building a prospective distribution network. 'On Kickstarter, we've been supported by 2 thousand people from 50 countries, a diverse array of people. We have 50,000 addresses on our newsletter mailing list. They all know how to reach us and many want to help even more so they are hired as volunteers' (Source: Anon 2016, np link). 

This made it possible for Bikes vs. Cars to be presented many more times at public screenings in each country than Gertten's previous films although they also addressed notorious and controversial topics. 'When we contacted our Japanese contributors and fans, local activists themselves arranged for the film's translation and found venues where the films could be screened. That's a great help. When I'm planning a screening, I prefer contacting the viewers directly rather than approaching people from the filmmaking industry. Distributors today don't put much effort into film distribution so I prefer creating my own platform which is often more efficient than the distributors. Those interested in the film call us first. It can also have a slightly negative impact since we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, which cost money to process. It's strenuous to communicate with the audience directly, but I believe that this is the way to go,' he justified his decision (Source: Anon 2016, np link).

In the heat of transmedia fever, Gertten's team also created The Bikes vs. Cars app capable of calculating how much petrol or diesel you have saved when riding a bike. You can compare your progress with other users and find out what is your impact on the climatic conditions on our planet. We have created this app because we are stupid. We tend to be too ambitious. When people speak about transmedia, they say a lot of crap and use many technicalities and everything seems to be very complex,' explains Gertten, who believes that it is only about the power of interpersonal and personal communication and that applications are just another 'cool' energy- and time-consuming project. … Aside from The Bikes vs. Cars app, they also launched the experimental Bike Data Project gathering data about biking in many world's cities. 'It lives its own life. The project is financed by Malmö, a private donor who is a fan of cycling, and a Swedish association for the support of cycling' (Source: Anon 2016, np link).

References / Further Reading

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Compiled by Camilla Muirhead, Katie Lambert, Katie Joyce, Will Sensecall, Izzie Snowden, Matt Creagh & Harry Cousens, edited by Ian Cook (last updated November 2020). Trailer embedded with kind permission of Fredrik Gertten. Product photo by Ian Cook.