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Bananas!* (2009)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime, Drama | 9 October 2009 (Sweden)
Juan "Accidentes" Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that was known by the company to cause sterility.

Director:

Fredrik Gertten
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Cast

Cast overview:
Byron Rosales Romero Byron Rosales Romero ... Himself
Juan J. Dominguez Juan J. Dominguez ... Himself
Duane Miller Duane Miller ... Himself
Rick McKnight Rick McKnight ... Himself
David Delorenzo David Delorenzo ... Himself
Mercedes Del Carmen Romero Mercedes Del Carmen Romero ... Herself
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Storyline

Juan "Accidentes" Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that was known by the company to cause sterility.

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Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Sweden | Denmark

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

9 October 2009 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Banany! See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color | Color (HD)
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Big Boys Gone Bananas!* (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The film Dole went to court to try and prevent from being shown
30 June 2009 | by larry-411See all my reviews

Attending the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival screening of "Bananas!*" was a freaky, surreal experience. This controversial documentary from Sweden almost didn't get shown at all.

For the first time in my movie-going history, I bore witness to an odd set of "rules" which needed to be complied with in order for the film to be exhibited. An agreement between Film Independent (sponsors of the Los Angeles Film Festival) and Dole, a corporation featured in the film, forced the Festival to do three things:

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.

It was made clear by the LA Film Festival representative that they "are not eager to be sued." In fact, Dole went to court to file an injunction to stop the film from being shown. The judge threw it out, saying that she "will not consider any request for prior restraint on free speech." Director Fredrik Gertten immediately declared in his impassioned introduction to the screening that he did not endorse the statement of the Festival. This elicited a huge cheer from the audience, even though nobody had yet seen the film.

So why the controversy? "Bananas!*" documents the history of a lawsuit brought by several Nicaraguan banana plantation workers who were allegedly made sterile by Dole's use of the pesticide DBCP. The Tellez v. Dole Food trial is considered to be a landmark case in the history of workers' rights. The lawyer representing the men, colorful Los Angeles-based attorney Juan Dominguez, was later accused of helping the plaintiffs commit fraud by lying to the jury. But that finding was made after the film had been shot, submitted, accepted, and scheduled by the Festival. Therefore, the larger question is not whether or not the farm workers were telling the truth -- but to what extent does a documentary filmmaker have a responsibility to ensure the veracity of his subjects? Is it even required? Or is simply telling the story itself worthy of documenting? There is no question that the workers' stories are moving and poignant, nor that some did tell the truth, according to the judge who made the decision that fraud had been committed (which actually emerged out of a later case).

There is no denying that Dole used the chemical in question -- their own President and CEO admitted as much in court -- even after it had been banned in many countries, and even after being taken off the market by Dow, its manufacturer, for causing sterility. The deplorable working conditions the men endured are vividly captured by Gertten. And the allegations made against Dole by the plaintiffs are truly frightening. But this Erin Brockovitch/David vs. Goliath tale is rife with issues surrounding the burden of proof.

Is it the job of a documentarian to tell the truth? Or to simply observe? That became the subject of a panel discussion after the film's screening, not whether or not the case itself was important. And that's a shame.


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