Big Boys Gone Bananas!* goes after the truth
A documentary by Fredrik Gertten. Rated G.
Mitt Romney insists that corporations are people, and if that’s true, just think about the kid who took your lunch money on Tuesdays. Swedish writer-director Fredrik Gertten found out more than he wanted to know about where bullies go after school when he made a documentary about one legal case in the United States.
According to that class-action suit, as documented in 2009’s Bananas!*, the Dole Food Company was guilty of using pesticides banned in Nicaragua and harming workers there. Company lawyers wanted to appeal, but they also put considerable effort into quashing Gertten’s film. Dole’s accusers were big, fat liars, they reasoned (as opposed to small, brown peasants); therefore the long-suffering Swedish director and producing partner Margarete Jangård were perpetrating a fraud and would be subject to massive lawsuits. Yee-haw! This extra-legal manoeuvring frightened the Los Angeles Film Festival into ghettoizing the doc, ensuring that no distributor would touch it.
In a strategic move, this disturbing follow-up film compares to the PR campaign that led to the Iraq War. The Big Boys—who admit they’ve never seen Gertten’s film—subsequently sought allies from those deemed most sympathetic to free-speech issues. This included a pathetic declaration by UCLA law professor David Ginsburg, who compared Bananas!* to Nazi propaganda—always a crowd pleaser. Fox News was even easier. It also tried to Santorumize Gertten’s name on Google. Only the intercession of Swedish lawmakers helped derail this corporate express train.
Vancouver-based producer Bart Simpson helped Gertten put together this potent meditation on abuses of power and the narrowing windows through which the truth can be glimpsed. Bring a lawyer you love. And some extra lunch money, just in case.
Watch the trailer for Big Boys Gone Bananas!*.