June 23, 2010

Court allows Dole to once again postpone the hearing date in the BANANAS!* case

Filed under: News — admin @ 12:39 am

Dole has requested to postpone the hearing in the BANANAS!* case that was supposed to be held this week. The new date will be August 19. This despite the fact that the Anti-SLAPP statute specifically states that a hearing on that kind of motion should be heard no later than 30 days from filing – yet it has been nine months since the motion was filed.

Dole dropped their lawsuit against BANANAS!* in October 2009, but there were still issues to resolve. We pointed out that even though Dole had dropped the lawsuit, we were still entitled to a ruling on our Anti-SLAPP motion and to an award of the legal fees incurred in defending against Dole’s action.

The hearing on these matters have been constantly rescheduled, and no less than five different Judges have been assigned to the case in the year that it has been pending. The first four judges either recused themselves or were taken off the case for various reasons, but since November 18 2009, Judge Dau has been the judge in the matter.

On December 22, 2009, we filed a separate motion setting forth the attorneys’ fees that we seek to recover. Thus, the Anti-SLAPP motion and the motion for fees were set for hearing on January 14, 2010. Dole requested that this date be moved and we agreed to move the hearing to January 28, 2010. A long series of court-imposed delays then followed. The January hearing was first postponed to March – and then to June.

On June 13, Dole requested to postpone the hearing to July 14, 2010, saying that they wanted to wait until after the hearings were completed in the Tellez matter. We refused to stipulate on the grounds that the Tellez hearings are irrelevant to our motions and we had waited far too long for a ruling as it was. Dole brought a motion to move the date despite our objections and suggested July 14, but at the hearing on the motion, Judge Dau indicated he was “not prepared to rule on the matter” and instead suggested August 19.

So here we are after countless delays and weird circumstances. The Anti-SLAPP statute specifically states that a hearing on an Anti-SLAPP motion should be heard no later than 30 days from filing – yet it has been nine months since the motion was filed. Beyond that – the Los Angeles Superior Court rules state that the court should try to dispose of an entire case within one year from the date of its filing – yet by the time the hearing is held, the action will have been pending for a year and two months. This delay is, of course, all in favor to Dole, who always tries to either postpone their court hearings or shift the debate away from themselves and on to irrelevant issues. This time, their main strategy seems to be postponing the case long enough to make the judge feel that the case has gone cold. We will of course not allow this to happen.

Related articles:

June 18, 2010

Q&A with Fredrik Gertten about facing Dole in court

Filed under: News — admin @ 2:15 pm

In a few days, BANANAS!* director Fredrik Gertten is flying from Sweden to Los Angeles to face Dole in court. One year has passed since Gertten, producer Margarete Jangård and their company WG Film got sued by Dole for screening the film in Los Angeles.
Q: What are going through your head, one year after Dole attacked your film and one week before your day in court?
A: I am looking forward to leave all this behind us. I have now consumed a lifetime use of lawyers. I have learnt a lot, it has been stressful but also very interesting. Now I would like to move forward. To the next project. And maybe some holidays.
Q: Didn’t Dole drop the lawsuit against you and BANANAS!*, why are you going to a court hearing?
A: Yes, Dole dropped the lawsuit, but our counterclaim, the so-called SLAPP motion will now have its day in court. The hearing is reduced to fight over lawyers fees and if we win the money will not reach us. It’s for the insurance company and our lawyers. But it is important for all filmmakers and journalists that the judge comes out with a clear verdict: DOLE did wrong. Suing a filmmaker is an attack of freedom of speech and press, the very fundament of the bill of rights and the first amendment. Democracy needs free press and documentary filmmakers. Hopefully the judge will make the same conclusion.
Q: Why do you have to be there in person?
A: I don’t need to. It’s all a matter between lawyers. But if I can make it I would love to.
Q: What are your chances? Do you think the Judge will make Dole pay your legal fees?
A:  I think the judge will understand how uneven this fight has been. Our lawyers fees have exceeded 300 000 dollars. It is not possible for a small production company to defend it self when it is so expensive. Many filmmakers would  give up without even trying. The judge only needs to see the film once to understand that DOLE was wrong. But I prefer of course that he also reads our SLAPP motion. It is a very good piece of work and will make anyone understand that DOLE has nothing more than tons of words.
Q: What is your dream scenario?
A: If we are successful, the Judge will tell Dole that they were wrong and made a mistake. This would be an important victory for us. Not financially, but in principle. A court order saying that Dole made a mistake would prove what we’ve been saying for a year now, and a victory in a Californian court room would be a victory on Dole’s home ground.
Q: Will this hearing be a part of a long legal process, or is this it?
A: I am no expert. It can be the end. But as always there’s a possibility of appeals. It can go on for years.
Q: You are also doing a “special screening” of BANANAS!* the night before the court hearing, what makes it special?
A: I will be there to answer questions, and so will our excellent attorney, Lincoln Bandlow. One year later after the turmoil at last year’s LA Film Festival, I am glad that the public can see the film that Dole didn’t want anyone to see. We are pleased that our US distributor Oscilloscope is screening this film for the public at this time before the DVD comes out, so that everyone can see for themselves. With Chevron coming on down on my fellow filmmaker Joe Berlinger for his film CRUDE and Dole suing us for BANANAS!*, it’s become even more difficult for documentary filmmakers to defend ourselves and continue to make nonfiction stories about those who have been wronged. Despite all of Dole’s effort to halt our film, to date we have screened at over 50 festivals worldwide and sold the film to over 10 countries for television and theatrical exhibition.
Q: Finally, will there be time for a drink at the beach?
A: If not a drink, a swim. My 13 year old son will travel with me, so I am doing my best to enjoy life. It’s a privilege to be a documentary filmmaker. And a father.


The special screening of BANANAS!* will take place at the Downtown Independent Theatre on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 7PM and 9PM.  The theatre is located on 251 Main Street in downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012.

June 16, 2010

The return to Los Angeles – court hearing and special screening

Filed under: News — admin @ 2:44 pm

BANANAS!* comes back to Los Angeles for one time screenings on June 23, 2010. Oscilloscope Laboratories presents theatrical screening at the Downtown Independent theater on eve of filmmaker trial.

Press release:

LOS ANGELES, CA – The infamous documentary BANANAS!* comes back to Los Angeles for a one night theatrical screening on the eve of the trial between Dole Food Company and filmmaker Fredrik Gertten. Both filmmaker Gertten and his attorney Lincoln Bandlow will be in attendance at the screening to discuss the film following each screening on June 23 in downtown Los Angeles.

After last year’s highly controversial screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival amid threats of lawsuits, Dole Food Company sued director Gertten and his production company WG Film. However, Dole withdrew the lawsuit after Gertten’s home country, Sweden and its Parliament, signed a petition demanding Dole to withdraw the lawsuit on the basis of freedom of speech. Next Thursday, June 24, following the Los Angeles screening, Gertten will have his day in court against Dole, as he filed a SLAPP motion.

"One year later after the turmoil at last year’s LA Film Festival, I am glad that the public can see the film that Dole Food Company didn’t want anyone to see," said filmmaker Gertten. "We are pleased that our US distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories is screening this film for the public at this time before the DVD comes out, so that everyone can see for themselves. With Chevron coming on down on my fellow filmmaker Joe Berlinger for his film CRUDE and Dole suing us for BANANAS!*, it’s become even more difficult for documentary filmmakers to defend ourselves and continue to make nonfiction stories about those who have been wronged. Despite all of Dole’s effort to halt our film, to date we have screened at over 50 festivals worldwide and sold the film to over 10 countries for television and theatrical exhibition."

This special screening of BANANAS!* takes place on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 7PM and 9PM at the Downtown Independent Theatre located at 251 Main Street in downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012.

The film has screened with critical acclaim in theaters and on television in Sweden, France, England, and Germany and other countries. BANANAS!* is a multi-layered courtroom drama delving into the global politics of food, the dynamics of First and Third world nations, and ultimately, human rights at the basest of levels.

Directed by investigative journalist Fredrik Gertten, BANANAS!* focuses on a landmark and highly controversial legal case pitting a dozen Nicaraguan plantation workers against Dole Food Corporation and its alleged use of a banned pesticide with a probable link to generations of sterilized workers. Juan "Accidentes" Dominguez, a Los Angeles-based personal injury attorney, leads the charge in this classic David vs. Goliath story at times both infuriating and inspirational of workers, their families as well as the culture of global, multinational business. Cameras inside the court and interviews with Dominguez and the plaintiffs take the audience directly to the story.

Experts and companies all over the world have followed this case. If Dominguez is successful, it could rock the economic foundations of Dole and Dow, and would open the US courts to other global victims of US-based multinationals. It would represent a new day in international justice, and there are further cases of a similar nature coming up next in many jurisdictions.

For more information on the screening go to:
Downtown Independent’s website »

Background on the lawsuit againt BANANAS!*:
BANANAS!* background » (1 page PDF)
BANANAS!* under fire – a timeline »
(full timeline)


For press enquiries, please contact:

David Magdael & Associates
Winston Emano
Phone: +01 213 624 7827


June 15, 2010

BANANAS!* wins Audience Award at FICA – exclusive report

Filed under: News — admin @ 8:28 pm


Olá, amigos do BANANAS!*

Bart here, back in Canada after a great experience at FICA Environmental Film Festival in Goiás, Brazil – where we won the Audience Award for favourite film.

The city of Goiás (officially Goiás Velho) is a wonderful spot, about 4 hours west from the capital of Brasilia. It’s incredibly hot in June (at least for Swedes and Canadians), somewhere around 35 degrees during the day but almost zero humidity – and about 500m above sea level.

Once the capital of the state, it’s now a UNESCO world heritage site and an example of the old colonial cities of Brazil.

You wouldn’t expect a film festival to take over such a town, but that’s exactly what it did – the whole region came out to take in the films, discussions, and cultural events organized by our wonderful hosts at the festival office.

Screenings were held in 3-hour blocks, and we screened at 2pm on Thursday to a busy theatre. School kids came in and there was a bit of buzzing and chatting during the screening…great that there was a lot of access to these films, but I must admit the noise made me anxious that the general audience wasn’t going to follow the important details of the film.

I guess I shouldn’t have worried – from the 28 films in official competition (all lengths and genres, including Oscar®-winner The Cove), the audience chose us as best film. Very flattering, and a great burst of energy for our production team after dealing with lawsuits, misinformed US media articles and a halted release strategy. Most importantly, it keeps the spotlight on the conditions of the workers in Chinandega. The win is already reported in the Nicaraguan press.

Audience Awards are always the best award to win. They rarely come with money attached (and with WG Film’s court costs, money could have helped!) – but they do what no other award can – they show that the film really struck a chord with the general viewership.

Documentarians work in alone or in small groups, and we always appreciate honest feedback. Getting a statement like this from the heartland of the largest country in Latin America is proof that the film is doing its job – and we hope this is a good step toward larger exposure in the central and southern hemisphere.

Finally, a big shout-out to our editor Jesper Osmund, who not only was part of the BANANAS!* win – he was also editor of Jakob Gottschau and Øyvind Hesselager’s Bringing Life To Space, which won the award for Best Series. Congrats J-man!


Tchau and obrigado to all,



Dole – proud sponsor of the term “Fredrik Gertten”

Filed under: News — admin @ 8:01 pm

If you do a search on the term “DBCP” on, Dole shows up in the “sponsored links” sidebar. If you mention DBCP in an article published on a site containing Google ads, the same ad shows up again. The link is called “Dole DBCP Facts”.

DBCP is a chemical formerly used in pesticides, the same chemical under scope in the recent banana pesticide trials. In 2007, Dole was sentenced to pay punitive damages to six workers claiming to have been sterilized by DBCP (this is the case featured in the film BANANAS!*).

Apparently, Dole is paying Google to be on top of the search results when users are trying to find information about the trials and DBCP.

However, if you do a search on the term “Fredrik Gertten”, the director of BANANAS!*, you get the same results. This probably means that Dole is paying for the keywords “Fredrik Gertten”. This also means every time someone writes something (a word is enough) about Gertten and BANANAS!*, the same link appears in the “ads by Google” space included on thousands of websites.

How does it work?
Dole is using an automated ad system called AdSense. If you want to use the system on your site, you reserve some space for Google, and the system recognizes keywords in the content of your site and places ads that match your content. Ideally, an article about bananas has ads about bananas.

On the other end, if you want to sell bananas, you use a service called AdWords. You invest in the word "bananas", and if that word appears in a text online, there is a chance your ad pops up. To set this up, you need to tell Google you’d like to spend a certain sum of money on your keyword, let’s say a $100. This sum is now your investment budget. As soon as someone clicks on your ad, a small amount of this budget is used. The more money you invest in your ad words, the more often they show. In the end, the site owner gets paid by Google for providing the ad space.

So where do you end up if you click on Dole’s ad?
It’s always the same link, an ad called Dole DBCP Facts, a page that doesn’t really contain any facts about the pesticide DBCP. Instead, it’s a list of Dole’s court documents related to the banana pesticide cases and the lawsuit against BANANAS!*. Sure, this is a nice little initiative in corporate transparency, but there is one big problem: where are all responses to Dole’s documents? We replied to every single cease-and-desist-letter they sent to us that are listed there. 

A few examples of where you might find Dole’s ad:
BANANAS!* trailer on vimeo »
BANANAS!* profile on IMDB »
Los Angeles Times article about BANANAS!* »


Read more
Bananas about "Bananas!*"
Pidde Andersson,
June 13, 2010

Google går bananas (in Swedish)
Andreas Ekström, Sydsvenskan
May 29, 2010

Smutskastningen kan börja (in Swedish)
Andreas Ekström,
May 26, 2010


Related articles on this site:
When Fredrik Gertten held a speech at the LA premiere, he mentioned the sponsored links. Watch the speech here »

The BANANAS!* lawsuit »
(All documents related to the lawsuit against BANANAS!*)

The letters from Dole »
(The cease-and-desist letters preceding the lawsuit)


June 7, 2010

DVD to be released in the UK

Filed under: News — admin @ 10:40 am

The BANANAS!* fever in the UK continues with the DVD release on July 12th, just in time for a Long-Doc-Summer. The film ships with an eco-friendly Dogwoof DVD sleeve, an exclusive interview with director Fredrik Gertten, trailers and the short film Pictures from a banana plantation.

In the meantime, don’t miss the UK cinema screenings:

Edinburgh Filmhouse
Edinburgh, June 7-10

Cardiff Chapter Cinema
Canton, June 28 – July 1

Read more at the Dogwoof website »


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