Hitting the halfway point of this series of profiles of this year’s documentary lineup, we reach the third of four IDFA titles in the World Cinema Documentary Competition: BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*, Swedish director Fredrik Gertten’s story of censorship, media spin, and corporate interests.
Sundance Program Description:
In April 2009, Swedish filmmakers Fredrik Gertten and Margarete Jangård learned that the world premiere of BANANAS!*—their documentary about a lawsuit against the Dole Food Company—would take place at a major film festival in Los Angeles. Within weeks, they were embroiled in a legal and public-relations battle to save their premiere, their film, their reputations, and their freedom of speech.
While censorship is, sadly, nothing new, its insidious power gains startling immediacy by playing out in front of Gertten’s camera. The filmmakers find themselves painted as villains due to Dole’s shrewd PR moves—even before their film has been screened. Gertten takes the offensive, filing a countersuit and media campaign of his own to confront Dole’s overgrown-schoolyard-bully tactics.
As demonstrated over the past several months in actions held around the globe, corporations are being taken to task for their disproportionate political and financial influence. BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!* is a telling case study of the power of individuals to fight back.
Gertten served as co-producer on Sundance alum BURMA VJ (2009). He and his producing partner Margarete Jangård found themselves embroiled in the situation chronicled in their present film later that year with BANANAS!*. Also featured in the film is its PR rep, David Magdael, who is a Park City regular each year; the previous film’s co-producer, Bart Simpson, who also produced Sundance alum THE CORPORATION (2004); and director Alex Rivera, who premiered his feature debut SLEEP DEALER (2008) at Sundance.
Why You Should Watch:
I previously wrote about the film out of IDFA here. Filmmakers especially should mark this one on their calendars, but the issues of corporate power and influence it deals with makes this relatable to all viewers.
Check out the film’s website and Facebook page. Gertten discusses his doc with Indiewire here. The film’s trailer may be found here. Gertten’s Kickstarter campaign for the doc may be found here. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.