Byron burying his father Alberto Rosales
|Workers at a banana plantation|
Juan Dominguez in Estelí, Nicaragua
"It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than a bad reputation".
“We’ll never know if anybody in Nicaragua was actually injured or harmed by the alleged wrongful conduct of the defendants, and people will never have the opportunity to learn, since this fraud is so pervasive and extensive that it has forever contaminated even our own ability to ever know the truth.”
“Just so we are clear, I am not in any way going to make, and I will not consider, any request for prior restraint on free speech. Okay? So, don’t ask me to go try and contact the film company. I don’t have jurisdiction over them. But even if I did, don’t ask me for it.”
“…it is clear that this film contains numerous false and defamatory statements of purported fact concerning Dole and its current and former officers and employees in connections with lawsuits brought against Dole and other defendants by plaintiffs’ attorney “Juan ‘Accidentes’ Dominguez. /…/ This letter is a formal demand that you immediately cease and desist making false and defamatory statements of purported fact regarding our clients, and that you immediately publish prominent reactions of the same. Failure to do so will subject you to legal action.”
“The film is a balanced documentary of a trial based on actual events. Most of the factual information contained in the film is stated by its subjects, not by the filmmaker, who is essentially acting as a reporter.”
“We respectfully ask that the Consulate General withdraw its endorsement of this defamatory film, and that the Swedish Embassy take other appropriate steps to limit its damaging impact”.
“Does the Minister for Foreign Affairs intend to, in an appropriate way, protest against the fact that an American transnational corporation uses Swedish government authorities to stop the screening of a Swedish documentary?”
“In answer to the question of whether my film is fraudulent, I cannot see that it is. Everything I filmed is the truth and how this all played out during this trial. The most important evidence in the case is a letter between Standard Fruit Company (now Dole) and Dow Chemicals. This is hard evidence and was not something that I made up.”
“As we move forward, we hope you as our allies in the international documentary community will throw your support behind us. Dole and their counsel’s interference with us, ITVS, the Festival, and their sponsors represent a serious threat to independent documentary production.”
“If you just show clips from the film tomorrow, we can provide financial support for a new film, a grand opening, and distribution in the U.S.”
“Two hours and twenty minutes before the screening we got the green light from the festival board. The film was screened. At least ten people from Dole in the audience, taking notes. The audience loved the film. The debate was insane, but I loved it. Just spent 1500 dollars on the party the Swedish consulate promised to give. Before Dole started to send letters.” —Gertten on Facebook.
”We strongly feel that as artists one has the right and freedom to show their work despite how others might feel about the content. Thank you for sustaining the integrity of the Fesitval by showing BANANAS!* tonight.”
“Woke up with heavy intense knocks on my door. Somebody calling my name. So now the shit has hit the fan. Shall I receive the papers smiling or shall I kick them? …It was a guy from the reception, somebody was trying to call my room, and the phone didn’t work. Five minutes later I went live on Radio Kristianstad back home. Good Morning LA.” —Gertten on Facebook.
“The drama continues. Received a new letter from Dole, where they urged us to not screen the film again. We did, and the house was sold out again. Great screening, with the same strange set up around it. When Juan Dominguez’s brother raised his voice, the room got silenced. A passionate defense for his brother, he made a few very strong points.” —Gertten on Facebook.
“The irony is that the latest developments in Judge Chaney’s courtroom provide the makings of a truly dramatic and important film: a U.S. lawyer who goes to Nicaragua, exploits poor, uneducated Nicaraguan citizens, foments political unrest against his own country as part of a massive conspiracy to manufacture false claims for billions of dollars and commit fraud on the U.S. courts. /…/ Given all of this, with some re-editing, re-writing, and re-shooting to focus on the truth, it seems you could have produced a truly compelling film”
”To cede to the demands of the subpoena without fighting them would truly hurt the integrity of the organization as the supporter of the independent filmmaker, and of free speech. Further, this could very well set a dangerous precedent in how outside parties handle legal actions toward films presented at the Los Angeles Film Festival and films associated with Film Independent.”
“News chopper in the air three blocks away from my hotel. King of pop is dead. So sad. Last coffee at Profeta before leaving Westwood and Los Angeles. A very special and totally BANANAS!* experience is over. Hopefully!” —Gertten twittered.
“The Mexican film "Those Who Remain" won the doc jury award. In their speech they asked everybody to toast for me and BANANAS!* Very sweet. Viva Mexico and big thanks to the Ambulante Film Festival, amor y solidaridad” —Gertten twittered.
"My clients and I believe that this suit is without merit and represents the latest in a continued line of intimidating harassment by a multinational corporation aimed squarely at a small, independent film and its filmmakers.”
"Dole does not want the [BANANAS!*] release to happen because it wants discussion about its DBCP practices to simply go away. We are confident the court will not allow Dole to use this meritless lawsuit to accomplish that goal".
“I hope they don’t succeed in silencing [Gertten]. These large companies are accustomed to getting their will through. Therefore, it’s inspiring for the rest of us when someone dares to stand up and question their actions. /…/ The fact that a powerful multinational corporation is trying to discourage the filmmaker illustrates the power of this film. Fredrik has scared them.” (Our translation). Read more »
”Let [Gertten] fight. I know what will happen here. He will lose, he will definitely lose.”
“The fact that the parliament is screening this film is an important symbolic gesture. We often take freedom of speech for granted, but obvious things must also be defined and formulated. The parliament members who took the initiative to this screening are doing just that, they are formulating why it is important to defend this movie.And I am incredibly happy about that.” Read more »
“We don’t like Dole’s actions. Suing a filmmaker instead of having a dialogue is despicable,” said Max CEO Richard Bergfors to the Realtid.se news website.
“Now very very tired after the gala premiere, early morning radio tomorrow, Fair Trade panel, interview with ARTE news from Berlin and then the great premiere broadcasted to cinemas around the country. Need some sleep, will get it one day.”
"We condemn the use of law to try to evade media scrutiny and public accountability. It is an unforgiveable violation of free speech." Read more »
“Dole is withdrawing the lawsuit. We still don’t know the conditions. We still have a counterclaim that has to be resolved. Journalists start calling. But I’m still going to Stockholm to meet to minister of culture.”—Fredrik Gertten on Facebook
“the law is clear that Dole cannot file its action, compel defendants to incur significant expense in having to file an anti-SLAPP motion to have the case thrown out, and then just slink away with a voluntary dismissal while the motion is pending and not pay for its actions. The lawsuit should never have been filed – Dole has to pay the price for filing it. Whether Dole will have to answer for the additional and significant damage it caused the makers of the film to suffer will be a question that may get revisited some other day.”
”having successfully compelled Dole to end their legal assault on the film, we are now focusing our efforts on getting the film out to the world. Once we catch our breath from working on overcoming the harm initially caused by Dole’s tactics, we will reevaluate reinstituting our action against Dole.” Read more »
”there is no credible evidence suggesting that any fraudulent activities engaged in Nicaragua by anyone had any impact or effect on the trial in this case“.
"the hearing is reduced to fight over lawyers fees and if we win the money will not reach us. It’s for the insurance company and our lawyers. But it is important for all filmmakers and journalists that the judge comes out with a clear verdict: Dole did wrong. Suing a filmmaker is an attack of freedom of speech and press /…/ Hopefully the judge will make the same conclusion". Read the full Q&A »
"The fee award is particularly gratifying because it sends a very important message - to corporations who believe they can use their unlimited wealth and the sword of litigation to squelch speech with which they disagree - that there is a price to pay for such attacks. I’m very happy to tell my Swedish clients that the First Amendment is still alive and well in America."
"We are pleased that BANANAS!* can now reach a larger audience in the United States and that the important issues raised in the film such as human rights for farm workers in third world countries can continue to be discussed and debated." —Fredrik Gertten
My dream as a filmmaker is to create a piece of work that can travel into the hearts and minds of the audience. For me, it is what is between the lines that matters the most in telling the story. Through my film, BANANAS!*, I am hopeful that viewers will see the lives of the workers who are at risk:
the people who are paying the price of hundred years of banana history. These are the workers, the families and the communities who are suffering from poverty and from the disaster of the chemicals left on their soil and floating in their water.
I also want to tell the human story – one that moves the audience with a strong narrative arc. As a filmmaker, I believe in complexity and in characters that make you feel something or sometimes just make you wonder.
Juan Dominguez, the attorney for the banana workers, is a great character. He has much at stake to win or to lose. He is also bridging the locations of the story from the poverty laden banana plantation communities in Chinandega, Nicaragua to the wealthy and corporate Los Angeles, California in the United States.
BANANAS!* follows a historic first court case in Los Angeles Superior Court, and ends with a verdict from the jury. That verdict, however, is still under appeal.
In April 2009, Judge Chaney - who presided over the plantation worker’s case - decided to kick out those cases represented by Juan Dominguez. This happened after the film was finished. Because of this new development, we decided to make a change with updated title cards at the film’s end reflecting Judge Chaney’s rulings. So far, Juan Dominguez has not been formally charged with anything. So basically, nothing has changed and everything remains status quo.On May 8, 2009, Dole Foods wrote their first "cease and desist" letter to me, my producer, our production company and to the Los Angeles Film Festival. Suddenly, we the filmmakers became a part of our own film. We were transformed into the role of David – the underdog battling the corporate Goliath – Dole Foods. This legal battle continued for more than five months.
Dole Foods filed a defamation lawsuit against us on July 8, 2009. We were forced to expend a painfully large amount of money and time to defend ourselves from these wrongful accusations.
We continued in our fight against Dole and to gather support from around the globe and in our home country of Sweden.
Then on October 15, 2009, we prevailed, as Dole Foods withdrew this unjustified lawsuit. And now, this film can continue to be seen by all without the threat of legal action looming over it.
I am pleased that we can share BANANAS!* with you.
Fredrik Gertten, October 2009
1) The movie was removed from the prestigious Documentary Competition;
2) A lengthy disclaimer was handed out to all patrons as they entered the theater;
3) Said disclaimer had to be read aloud to the audience prior to the screening.
Boycott Dole Foods
Dole did everything in their power to silence the filmmaker and everyone who had anything to do with it through high pressure use of main stream media and intimidation and threats of a lawsuit.
Filmmaker Fredrik Gertten's kept pressure against Dole and their top lawyers which ultimately lead to a victory in the lawsuit for over 10,000 workers.
Many restaurants, and consumers of Dole products have officially announced an ongoing boycott of all their products to send a strong message to the huge multinational corporation; we will not continue to fatten the pockets of a company that has blatant disregard for human life.
A company that is the poster child for GREED.