dirty tricks, lawsuits, manipulation, and the price of free speech
Big Boys Gone Bananas!*
a film by Fredrik Gertten
Opened in Toronto May 11, 2012
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
How far will a giant multinational agri-business go to protect its brand? Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten knows first-hand after experiencing the full fury of Big Boys Gone Bananas!
Robin Smith’s Canadian distribution house, KinoSmith, picked up this title hot off the tails of Sundance and its on-going media attention, with a theatrical release in Toronto directly after its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, May 11, 2012, at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
Gertten made a documentary three years ago titled BANANAS!* (screened at IDFA 2009) which recounts the lawsuit that 12 Nicaraguan plantation workers brought against the fruit giant, Dole Food Company.
The film was selected to screen in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and word of mouth was positioning it as one of the year’s most anticipated issue-documentaries. But not long after the L.A. Film Fest announcement, the festival did an about-face, informing Gertten that it would be removing Bananas! from competition. Shortly thereafter, the film was the subject of a scathing article in the Los Angeles Business Journal. Subsequently, Gertten received a letter from Dole’s attorney threatening him with legal action.
But the experience inspired this latter-day David to fight harder against the corporate Goliath. The Swedish director responded to the intimidation tactics by creating an even more impassioned new film, Big Boys Gone Bananas!* A real-life thriller of secrets and back-door vendettas, Big Boys Gone Bananas!* chronicles the entire Bananas! saga – from Dole’s legal attack on the producers, to bullying and scare-tactics against those who would champion the film, to media control, to a full-spin PR campaign.
This personal film reveals how a multinational corporate empire can and will adopt a “scorched earth” policy against those who speak out against its business practices – with the very future of freedom of speech at stake. As Dole’s PR rep firm puts it, “It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation”.
Big Boys Gone Bananas!*had its world premiere at IDFA last November, U.S. premiere at Sundance in January, and just came off its Canadian premiere at HOT DOCS.
Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is distributed in Canada by KINOSMITH INC., an independent Canadian film distribution & marketing company founded in February 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. With a mandate to bring critically-acclaimed Canadian and international films to audiences across the country, the company has distributed over 150 feature films in the last five years as well as provided marketing advice to completed films and productions in development. Upcoming theatrical releases include, THE GUANTANAMO TRAP, CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT, REPLICAS featuring Selma Blair, GIRL MODEL, SOUND IT OUT, HOW TO MAKE A BOOK BY STEIDL and THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY.