FRUITful Designs (5): "Bananas!*"
It’s movietime on Daily Dose of Art! Today I bring you the documentary “Bananas!*.
“Bananas!* created such a stir in both the film and corporate worlds that a documentary of the documentary was produced two years later called “Big Boys Gone Bananas”.
– Movie Review – 2009
Nicaraguan Plantation Workers vs. Dole Corporation
Swedish film maker Fredrik Gertten presents an intense courtroom documentary chronicling the international law suit brought by Nicaraguan banana plantation workers against the Dole Corporation for its continued spraying of Nemecon, a Dow chemical pesticide that was known to cause infertility in men.
A Dramatic Law Suit and Trial
The documentary begins with an introduction to Los Angeles-based personal injury attorney Juan Dominguez — nicknamed ‘Accidentes’ — who most often represented Latin Americans. Dominguez read a newspaper article about Nemagon, a Dow Chemical Co. pesticide being used on Dole Food Corporation banana plantations in Nicaragua. The chemical had been shown to cause infertility in men.
Dominguez, in a sort of high stakes ambulance chase, went down to Nicaragua to meet with banana plantation workers who’d been exposed to Nemagon, and sign them up — 10,000 in Nicaragua, alone — as plaintiffs in what was to become a high profile international law suit, Tellez vs. Dole Food Corporation. To pursue the suit, Dominguez partnered with Duane Miller, the San Francisco-based attorney famous for successfully fighting a toxic tort case involving DBCP. Bananas chronicles that law suit from its beginnings to the verdict.
Setting the Stage
Filmmaker Fredrik Gertten uses dramatic archival footage, as well as on camera interviews with workers in Nicaragua, to show how Nemagon permeated their work environment, and spilled over into the rustic shelters provided for them. Filmed worker depositions indicate the extent of their exposure to the chemical. And, they reveal that they have not been able to procreate. Seeing their work conditions is infuriating and hearing their testimony is heart wrenching. By providing this kind of background and showing sequences filmed at the trial, Gertten presents a well-structures and sympathetic case in favor of the workers.
It’s Still Not Over
Bananas is an important documentary because it exposes yet another situation in which corporations and their managers have exposed employees — and other people — to dangerous work and living conditions. Situations such as that of the Nicaraguan banana plantation workers have also been dramatically exposed in other documentaries — Crude is a good example, as well as popular narrative features such as Erin Brockovich, Silkwood and A civil Action. Of course, the particulars are different in each film, but thematically, they’re remarkably alike. They all provide excellent and dramatic entertainment with ongoing real life relevance.Read this article on The Ecologist–“The film that stood up to banana giant Dole over pesticide poisoning (and won)”
Then in 2011: the documentary
“Big Boys Gone Bananas”
inspired by the “Bananas!*” documentary
Big Boys Gone Bananas!* has been called a classic David Vs Goliath story – but this is more about defending the right to freedom of speech and what happens to a documentary filmmaker when he goes up against a large corporation like Dole Foods and how far Dole will go to shift the focus off of them and onto the filmmaker even after their own CEO has admitted wrong doing in a court of law. Media spin, PR scare tactics, dirty tricks, lawsuits, and corporate bullying come into play, but it is the people who ultimately prevail, thus creating a cautionary tale and a real life lesson learning experience. — (C) Official Site