Bad bananas, pretty good doc.
DIRECTED BY FREDRIK GERTTEN (Sweden, Special Presentations)
Wednesday, May 2, 5:30 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
If there was ever a documentary made for a documentary festival it is the documentary Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, which is based on censorship of the documentary Bananas…do you see our point? It’s a lot of documentary. After a small Swedish film company makes a film (the aforementioned Bananas) exposing the exploitation of Dole workers in Ecuador, they come under intense legal and media scrutiny as the fruit company giant attempts to pluck the film from its proverbial branch before it has even ripened. Or at least, before it can show at the Los Angeles Film Festival where it was to have had its premiere.
A classic David and Goliath tale, the filmmakers had the foresight to start their cameras from the beginning of the affair, capturing the lack of support from the film festival, the media’s turn against them, and heat-of-the-moment panicked Skype calls as multi-million dollar lawsuits fly. If it all sounds rather doc-centric, it is. The film does, however, touch on the shifts in local and global means of communication and connection, as eventually bloggers and the Swedish parliament rally around the filmmakers. (The latter occurs after director Fredrik Gertten runs into his Minister of Parliament in his “local cheese shop,” which seems fittingly Swedish.) Overall, it is a tightly woven film, which is less about bananas than freedom of speech, artistic integrity, and the underdog winning. Which is a pretty sweet fruit.