The title may sound like something you would rent from the sort of store that has no windows (if you know what I mean) but Fredrik Gertten’s documentary is actually an illuminating film, dealing with issues of free speech and a free press.
The film follows the trials of Gertten and his team to get his 2009 film BANANAS!* screened. In that feature, the misconduct of fruit company Dole was outlined – the exposing of Nicaraguan plantation labourers to pesticides which may cause sterility. Following this, the company launched an aggressive cease and desist campaign smearing the film and its claims, intimidating the film makers and effectively forcing the Los Angeles Film Festival to withdraw the film from competition.
Despite the narrow focus of the film, a sort of meta-documentary, the issues it chooses to deal with have wide ramifications beyond even the making of documentaries.
In light of the increasing examination of libel and slander laws, and the ongoing campaign to ensure a free press isn’t hindered by spurious claims by large companies, BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS! has broad topical appeal. Despite the narrow focus of the film, a sort of meta-documentary, the issues it chooses to deal with have wide ramifications beyond even the making of documentaries.
By taking us through the relentless campaign by Dole to silence the film and the legal hurdles Gertten and his team faced, the film outlines the huge challenge faced by journalists who wish to take multinationals to task. If the purpose of documentary is to inform and educate, you won’t be left in much doubt of the challenges faced by investigative journalism worldwide after observing Gertten’s struggles.
BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS! screens on Wednesday 19th September at 6pm. Director Fredrik Gertten will attend for a Q&A after the screening. Tickets here.