What is the impact on freedom of speech and the press when a big corporation attempts to suppress criticism and manipulate the media?
Documentary filmmaker Fredrik Gertten found out when he debuted his previous film, BANANAS!
, which portrays the struggle of 12 Nicaraguan plantation workers who brought a lawsuit challenging fruit giant Dole Food’s use of a banned pesticide. Shortly after BANANAS!
was selected to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Gertten received an unsettling note that the festival had withdrawn the film from competition. Soon after, a scathing article about the film appeared in the L.A. Business Journal. Within weeks, the filmmaker was embroiled in a major legal and public relations battle with Dole to save their premiere, their film, their reputations, and their freedom of speech.
Corporate efforts to censor criticism gain startling immediacy as Gertten decides to film the whole confrontation with Dole. Eventually, he takes the offensive, filing a countersuit and organizing a media campaign of his own to challenge Dole’s tactics. The resulting film, BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS!*,
is a dramatic cautionary tale about corporate power and press manipulation, a reminder of the importance of independent film in today’s more timid media world, and a case study of how individuals can fight back to protect freedom of speech and encourage a truly free press. The film would be useful in a variety of classes, including journalism, film, law, business, ethics and environmental policy.Preview link available upon request. Contact [email protected] for more information