Hollywood Podcast interview with Fredrik Gertten
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Hollywood Podcast interview with Fredrik Gertten

Los Angeles actor/writer, Tim Coyne, interviews Fredrik Gertten, director of BANANAS!*. Running time 23:25:

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I have just finished reading on an external website yet again, another skewed interpretation of BANANAS!

The film stands on its own as told through the perspective of plaintiff attorney, Juan Dominguez, and several of the plaintiffs in the TELLEZ litigation which resolved in 2007 in the Los Angeles Superior Court by way of jury verdict. The film includes trial testimony of not only damning evidence against Dole, acknowledged as to its veracity by the President of Dole, but also includes trial footage of the plaintiffs being impeached on the witness stand. Not too many filmmakers would include that.

Is anyone bothering to mention that of the original 12 plaintiffs in the Tellez case, numerous of them did NOT receive a verdict in their favor and that that is shown in film? Or that Dole prevailed in defending itself against multiple claims which is also shown in the film? Further in a class action lawsuit, any trial attorney will tell you that out of 5000 claimants, undoubtedly there will be some individuals making a claim that should not be. Can they be weeded out? You try, but sometimes you don’t always succeed. Here, we have a Central American country with uneducated, low income/poverty level laborers as claimants. Will some see a lawsuit as their Golden Ticket? Undoubtedly. Americans see class actions or major accidents as their ticket. I personally have worked on multi-injury litigation matters and class actions where, in one instance, there were 54 passengers on a bus but several hundred claims were made by people all claiming to be passengers. Could that have happened with TELLEZ and subsequent litigation matters in the Class? Of course. Is it the filmmaker’s responsibility to know that or discern that? No. That’s the lawyer’s job. A filmmaker cannot be held accountable for the veracity and capabilities of a lawyer involved in litigation. A filmmaker can only depict what is depicted to him - particularly a filmmaker from a foreign country with no experience of the American judicial system, particularly in Los Angeles County Superior Court. A filmmaker who, like so many foreigners, identify American attorneys and the law with Johnnie Cochran and OJ Simpson and the infamous “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” (And even there, what woman in the world doesn’t know that when you get a pair of leather shoes wet and have them air dry, the leather shrinks. In the legal arena, as in life, things are not always what they seem. There are always smoke and mirrors.)

As with any lawsuit, there are plaintiffs that suffer no injury and should not be compensated. That happened in the TELLEZ case. Fredrik Gertten shows that in the film. And even Judge Cheney herself admitted in her opinion on dismissing subsequent cases (not only for suspected fraud but for failure of counsel to comply with basic court orders concerning civil discovery), that there are undoubtedly valid claimants. And while subsequent litigation matters may have been dismissed, should Judge Cheney have made a sweeping comment about a prior action which was decided by a jury and in which the jury did not find in favor of all plaintiffs but rather decided in multiple cases in favor of Dole? Has anyone asked questions of Judge Cheney’s elevation to the Court of Appeal and perhaps a desire to clear her docket?

Fredrik Gertten made a film in good conscience as seen from the perspective of plaintiff’s counsel and the original TELLEZ plaintiffs. And that perspective included evidence damning to both Dole and the plaintiffs.

Should his First Amendment rights to voice his artistic expression through film be silenced or dictated to conform to political correctness? No.

Should he be forced to “junk” his film and reshoot to conform to the passage of time? No.

To demand that of a filmmaker would be to demand that of every author, every scientist, when new information is uncovered or learned.

Further, at the crux of the film BANANAS! itself is the unrefuttable scientific evidence of the harmful physical effects of exposure to the toxic pesticide such as that used by Dole in Nicaragua and other areas. That evidence is open and available on the internet on global proporation, including an August 2007 news report documenting 8000 individuals suffering bodily injury from exposure to this very chemical and 2000 deaths attributable to same.

Lastly, has it escaped anyone’s attention that the moviegoing public, particularly those attending documentaries, have the ability to discern fact from fiction and dig a little deeper if questions arise on a subject? Do not underestimate the public. They do realize that time and life are static, not rigid, evolving second by second, creating new chapters for further exploration and discovery and perhaps, a second film. To “redo” every book, recording or film and junk the existing just because of ongoing change, would prevent anything from ever being completed.

I applaud LAFF and Film Independent for allowing BANANAS! to be shown, but condemn them for buckling under pressure exerted by Dole Food Co. Film Independent prides itself on providing a voice for the artistric expression of filmmakers. It was wrong to try and silence the voice of Fredrik Gertten.
LAFF and Film INdepdentn

Fredrik Gertten RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULES!!!
ZLATAN IN BARCA!!!!!!
DOLE IS THE DEVIL!

The process against you has given you a huge amount of publicity. When will this movie be distributed to a wider audience, beyond the movie festivals? Either as DVD, sold to TV networks, or if those would cost too much for you: straight to Bittorrent.

Congratulations on your bravery and investigative reporting skills in tackling this quintessential problem of how Big Business tramples on the rights of The People, and is why US Big Business is hated around the world, and Americans are mostly ignorant of why they are hated as such.

The facts in your film desperately need to be brought into the light of day, and the situation cured in the correct way; that is bananas must be grown in an ‘organic’ way, without pesticides and with more labor.

Low price should not be the highest criteria, responsible production methods should be the first priority along with best quality of product.

When you do go to DVD, count me as a buyer !

I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

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