September 18, 2015

Upcoming Screenings!

Filed under: The Film — admin @ 10:49 am

It’s so good to see that people still want to screen “BANANAS!*” and “BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS” around the world!

Here is a list of the upcoming screenings of both films in September and October:

19-25 september: “BANANAS!*” and “BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS”  at Swedish Film Festival in Japan!
More info (in Japanese)
20 september: “BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS” in Bonn
More info
3 october: “BANANAS!*” in Barcelona.
More info

3-10 october:
(website under construction)

13 october: “BANANAS!*” in Duluth, MN at Zinema 2. It will be apart of an environmentally conscious doc series that will happen on Tuesdays throughout the Fall.
More info

November 19, 2011

Watch online

Filed under: News,The Film — admin @ 3:10 pm

Juan “Accidentes” Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he tackles the Dole Food Company in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that was known to cause sterility. Can he beat the giant, or will the corporation get away with it? In the suspenseful documentary BANANAS!*, filmmaker Fredrik Gertten sheds new light on the global politics of food.

One third of the production price of the average banana is used simply to cover the cost of pesticides1. All over the world, banana plantation workers are suffering and dying from the effects of these pesticides. Juan Dominguez, a million-dollar personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, is on his biggest case ever representing over 10,000 Nicaraguan banana workers claiming to be afflicted by a pesticide known as Nemagon. Dole Food and Dow Chemicals are on trial.

Another banana worker is being buried in a small northern town in Nicaragua. For his whole life, Alberto Rosales used his machete to remove weeds from below the banana plants. His son says his last years were filled with pain, a body that was itching all night — and in the end his kidneys stopped working.

BANANAS!* – the film that triggered Big Boys

This is the documentary that made Dole so upset in the first place.

Watch Big Boys Gone Bananas here:
Watch Fredrik Gertten’s latest film, Bikes vs Cars, here:

May 5, 2009

About the film

Filed under: The Film — admin @ 10:00 pm

Juan “Accidentes” Dominguez is on his biggest case ever. On behalf of twelve Nicaraguan banana workers he is tackling Dole Food in a ground-breaking legal battle for their use of a banned pesticide that was known by the company to cause sterility. Can he beat the giant, or will the corporation get away with it? In the suspenseful documentary BANANAS!*, filmmaker Fredrik Gertten sheds new light on the global politics of food.


One third of the production price of the average banana is used simply to cover the cost of pesticides1. All over the world, banana plantation workers are suffering and dying from the effects of these pesticides. Juan Dominguez, a million-dollar personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, is on his biggest case ever representing over 10,000 Nicaraguan banana workers claiming to be afflicted by a pesticide known as Nemagon. Dole Food and Dow Chemicals are on trial.

Byron burying his father Alberto Rosales

Another banana worker is being buried in a small northern town in Nicaragua. For his whole life, Alberto Rosales used his machete to remove weeds from below the banana plants. His son says his last years were filled with pain, a body that was itching all night — and in the end his kidneys stopped working.

Inside the church, filled with friends and family, Father Bayardo begins his sermon. It’s not about Alberto Rosales after awhile. It’s about pesticides. Father Bayardo is accusing landowners and US transnationals of immoral practices which he says cause the death and suffering of many members of his community.

Banana worker
Workers at a banana plantation

The whole region of Chinandega is an ecological disaster zone. The pesticide spray has left its mark everywhere. The soil, the water, the animals, the food of the people are all affected. The level of pesticides in breastmilk is 700 times higher than is acceptable2. Some say it will take 200 years for the ground to heal itself enough to produce natural crops again.

One of the pesticides, a DBCP-based compound called Nemagon, was banned in the USA in 1977 for causing male sterility. Standard Fruit—now Dole—continued to use the pesticide in its plantations outside the USA up to 1982.

Enter Juan Dominguez.

Dominguez, a personal injury lawyer and a member of the “Million Dollar Club” of attorneys in Southern California, is making history. As the legal representative of over 10,000 Nicaraguan banana workers, he is the first attorney ever to force American corporations to take responsibility for actions they have done outside US borders.

Juan Dominguez
Juan Dominguez giving a speech in Estelí, Nicaragua

This case has been followed by experts and companies all over the world.  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.

Accidentes billboard
Juan Dominguez billboard ad

More stills from the film »


  1. Anne Vézina quoted in Banana drama by Robin McKie, The Guardian, May 21, 2006.
  2. Marianela Corriols (PAHO/WHO) interviewed in Nuestro veneno de cada dia, documentary, 2005.

Interview with director Fredrik Gertten

Filed under: The Film — admin @ 1:10 pm

“I show the real world. But it’s the world seen through my eyes, and there are different ways to depict that,” says Fredrik Gertten – filmmaker and journalist.

Fredrik Gertten is one of Sweden’s most prominent documentary film makers. He is well known in his native country for films with a strong connection to the Malmö-region including Architectural projects like the Turning Torso skyscraper (The Socialist, the Architect and the Twisted Tower), the Öresund bridge (Walking on Water) and the local soccer team (True Blue).

An ordinary family is a story about a destitute middle class family in Argentina. It received moderate attention in Sweden, however, it became Gertten’s greatest international success with standing ovations from South Korea, the US. to Istanbul and one million television viewers in Poland.

“I am interested in the universality of a story, and since we finance our films internationally they naturally stretch outside the Swedish border. I want to make films that everyone can understand. None of our films were made for critics or cineastes. One of the best things in my line of work is when people approach me in the street to talk about one of my films.”

Gertten’s latest project BANANAS!* tells the story of how 12 banana plantation workers from Nicaragua sue the Dole company, one of the biggest food corporations in the world. Dole is accused of knowingly using a banned pesticide in the 70’s that may be linked to severe health problems and infertility among workers.

"What amazed me most is the audacity of a company like Dole to use a pesticide that was known to cause sterility. I wanted to learn more."

The Nicaraguan worker’s situation is by no means an isolated problem. During production of BANANAS!*, Gertten was contacted by several other Dole workers with similar stories, in regions as far apart as the Ivory Coast and the Philippines.

“The bananas we’ve been eating all these years look to have caused horrendous suffering for these people. To me it is very unsettling to find that out now. Who knows what chemicals are used on bananas today? Who knows if any consequences will be felt in 30 years? I want to highlight the moral dilemma – that the food we eat can have a high price tag for others.”

Fredrik Gertten started WG-Film in 1994 together with documentary filmmaker Lasse Westman. During the initial years they lived of external projects, investing all company assets in technical equipment, cameras and editing tools.

“It’s easier to get started nowadays, since equipment is so much cheaper. In most cases however, people make one or two films, then they get themselves a "real" job.”

Before venturing into filmmaking, Fredrik Gertten was a print journalist focusing on long, reflective articles from around the globe. An important aspect of his work can be traced back to those years – his fascination for “the little man.”

“I’m interested in telling the story of a nation through one single person in the street. That is more rewarding than meeting kings and presidents. For me, one of the greatest tasks of the political documentary is to show "the others". To portray them as fellow human beings we can respect, and not just as victims.”

Fredrik makes no attempt to hide that the casting is a vital part of his work. It is an often underestimated or even scorned process in the documentary world.

“A great story without a great main character leaves you with a less than great film. It’s as simple as that.”

The first attorney to bring a case in front of a US jury is Juan 
Dominguez, a Spanish speaking Cuban exile. In the film, Dominguez bridges the wide gap between the rich world and the poor workers, even though he was just a child when he arrived in the US. Juan is an Los Angeles based personal injury lawyer, specializing in automobile accidents and with a primarily Latino client base. The process against Dole is significantly larger than any case he’s previously taken on.

“We looked up his (Dominguez) web page and it was almost too good to be true. We couldn’t have written a better character ourselves. Duane Miller, Juan’s partner in this venture, is his exact opposite. Miller may be a more talented trial lawyer and specializes in court cases dealing with toxins and chemical pollution of the environment, but his reluctance to appear in the film is obvious. He wanted to focus completely on the case. That is a very reasonable position, however it does not translate into a great film.”

Gertten does not shy away from emphasizing certain character traits in the film with a facial expression, a sigh or a grin. At the same time he distances himself from what he calls "reality show dramaturgy" to project set roles onto the people involved.

“My guideline is that the subjects should be able to recognize themselves. Dole’s defense attorney Rick McKnight for instance is in many ways the bad guy in the film, but he is also portrayed as proud, sharp and alert. I don’t think he would object to that image of him.”

This illustrates one of Gertten’s convictions, not to create monsters on the screen. In BANANAS!* this is never more clear than when Dole’s former CEO David Delarenzo enters the witness stand. He was directly responsible on site in Nicaragua in the 70’s and gave the order to keep using pesticides already banned in the US.

“And in comes this nice little man with a Nicaraguan wife. The caricature with a tall black hat and a dollar grin seldom fits. Maybe the film would have packed a bigger punch if I had painted everything black and white, but it is just that kind of complexity that fascinates me.”

Gertten has become more and more secure in his film making. Where he would previously keep the cameras rolling to make sure no great shot was lost, he now works in a more deliberate and controlled fashion. Despite this, the raw material for BANANAS!* consisted of 50 days of court hearings and 60-70 hours of other footage. First Danish editor Jesper Osmund and dramaturgy consultant Niels Pagh went through everything. Then a strategic meeting was held discussing a possible structure. How does the film open? How do we portray Juan? If the audience doesn’t quite like him, will they still root for the plantation workers?

“US documentaries often begin with a really long cut. In the editing room they initially tend to have a version running several hours, and then they gradually trim it down to an acceptable length. Our method is instead to isolate potential scenes. First, situations with Juan through the entire narrative and next the Nicaraguan family, then Duane. We create several parallel threads that we spend two to three months working on, then we weave these together. This leaves us with an initial running time quite close to the final goal.”

A lot of the drama is created in editing, but the research and filming sets the tone for the entire film. For Gertten, it is about knowing what he is after. Asking the right question, but also being in the right place at the right time.

“Sometimes you feel instinctively that a shot will end up in the final cut. I sat in the courtroom when Rick McKnight held his final argument. I had been in Nicaragua, I had met the affected workers and I was intensely provoked by his mocking banter. I wanted my audience to feel the same thing.”

The final arguments are followed by another scene that puts a sharp focus on our own part in this story. To celebrate, Juan sends an employee to buy some liquor and mixers, and he returns with a bag full of Dole juice.

“That scene is absolutely real, and it clearly shows how trained we are as consumers. If not even these people think about what juices they buy, what would it take for the rest of us to break the pattern?”

Gertten points out that even though Dole obviously has an enormous responsibility for the lives of these people, our own attitudes are important as well.

“I eat less bananas now, but I consciously try not to quit entirely but instead choose Fair trade products. I don’t believe in being 100% orthodox. That goes for my private life as well as my films. I don’t want to preach morality and BANANAS!* shouldn’t leave the audience feeling guilty and depressed. Change does not come from despair, but from seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, that our actions actually matter.”

Interview by Orvar Säfström



Follow Fredrik on »


Film stills

Filed under: The Film — admin @ 11:00 am

Stills from BANANAS!*. Click on a thumbnail to see the photo in full size. For high resolution stills, please go to Press room »
















Filed under: The Film — admin @ 9:00 am

For an updated screenings list, please go to: »

Festival Résistances
Foix, France
2011.07.08 – 2011.07.16

Sembrando Cine
2011.06.15 – 2011.06.21

GA Alma et Chicoutimi-Nord
Alma, Quebec, Canada

Park Slope Food Coop
Brooklyn, US

Maysles Cinema (sneak preview)
Harlem, New York

Kino Xenix
Zürich, Schweiz
2011.05.08 – 2011.05.29

Festival Economia

Cinema Politica
Truro, Canada

Linz, Austria

Food & Film
Savona, Italy

Cinema Politica
Windsor, Canada

Cinema Politica
Truru, NS, Canada

Food Film Festival
Amsterdam, Netherlands
2011.03.18 – 2011.03.20

Rassegna di cinema documentario al Baretti
Torino, Italy

Festival Internacional de Cine de Punta del Este
2011.03.13 – 2011.03.21

Agenda 21

San Francisco Green Film Festival
San Francisco, USA 
2011.03.03 – 2011.03.06

Kino im kesselhaus
Krems, Austria

Cartagena International Film Festival
Catagena, Colombia
2011.02.24 – 2011.03.03

Worldbridger Film Series
Vancouver, US
2011.02.23 – 2011.02.24

Copenhagen, Denmark

Biblioteket, Hörsalen
Ängelholm, Sverige


The International Student Festival 
Trondheim, Norway 
2011.02.11 – 2011.02.20

Cinema Politica, Mount Allison University
Sackville, NB, Canada

Husie Medborgarkontor
Malmö, Sweden

Memorial University
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Agenda 21, Cafe Bönan
Mariehamn, Åland

Frontline Club
London, UK

Austrian Theatrical release
Vienna, Linz

Los Angeles, USA

ORF2 (Television)

Top Kino Matinée
Vienna, Austria

Top Kino
Vienna, Austria

Scandinavia House 
New York, USA 
2010.11.17 – 2010.11.20

Nordox, Nordic Documentary Film Festival
Beijing, China
2010.11.13 – 2010.11.25

Tutti nello stesso piatto
International Food, Film & Videodiversity Festival
Trento, Italy
2010.11.10 – 2010.12.10

The screening room at the Mercury Cinema
Adelaide, Australia 

American Scandinavian Foundation 
New York, USA 

Ad Hoc: Inconvenient Films Human Rights Film Festival 
Vilnius, Lithuania 
2010.10.23 – 2010.11.09

DOCSDF International Film Festival 
2010.10.21 – 2010.10.31

Eskilstuna, Sweden 

Saint Michaels College 
Colchester, VT, USA 

Alianza Francesa 
Managua, Nicaragua 
2010.10.06 – 2010.10.07

Internazionale a Ferrara Festival 
Rome, Italy 
2010.10.01 – 2010.10.10

Task Force on Americas 
Marin County, CA, USA 

Criterio Ambiental 
Costa Rica 
2010.09.25 – 2010.10.01

Casa Canadiense 
Toronto, Canada 

Matsalu Nature Film Festival 
Lihula, Estonia 
2010.09.15 – 2010.09.19

Rīga, Latvija 
2010.09.11 – 2010.09.12

INZG In Zagreb Festival 
Zagreb, Croatia 
2010.09.10 – 2010.09.11

DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival 
Swedish Embassy, Seoul, South Korea 
2010.09.09 – 2010.09.13

Novi Sad, Serbia 
2010.09.07 – 2010.09.11

Chungmuro International Film Festival 
South Korea 
2010.09.02 – 2010.09.10

Baltic Sea Forum 
2010.09.02 – 2010.09.12

Melbourne Interantional Film Festival 
Melbourne, Australia 
2010.07.22 – 2010.08.08

Letizia Onlus project "June a month for Nicaragua" 
Rome, Italy 

The Chapter Cardiff
Canton, UK 
June 28 – July 1, 2010

Downtown Independent
Los Angeles, USA
June 23, 2010

Ecofilms – Rodοs International Films + Visual Arts Festival 
Rodos, Greece 
June 22-27, 2010

FICA International Film Festival
Goiânia, Brasil 
June 8-13, 2010

Edinburgh Filmhouse 
Edinburgh, UK
June 7-10, 2010

Berkshire International Film Festival
Massachusetts, USA
June 3-7, 2010

Transilvania International Film Festival 
Transilvania, Romania
May 28 – June 6, 2010

Real Earth Environmental Film Festival 
New Zealand 
May 22, 2010

Encontro Internacional de Capoeira 
Angola Montpellier, Brazil 
May 14-16, 2010

Dalhousie University 
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 
May 13, 2010

Heidelberg, Germany 
May 12, 2010

Victoria Film Festival 
Victoria, CA, USA 
May 8, 2010

Biograf Spegeln 
Malmö, Sweden 
May 8, 2010

"Let’s go BANANAS!*"
Bio Rio, Stockholm, Sweden 
May 8, 2010

DOXA Documentary Film Festival 
Vancouver, Canada 
May 7-16, 2010

7 Planete Doc Review Film Festival 
Warsaw, Poland 
May 7-16, 2010

Wehrenberg Theatres, Rochester
Maine, USA, 
May 4, 2010

Swedish cinema screenings, winter 2009-2010:
Norsborg, Dec 3
Lund, Kino, Dec 12 (with director visit)
Göteborg, Haga, Dec 11-17, March 1, April 22
Stockholm, Zita, Dec 15
Gislaved, Filmstudion, Jan 25
Kristianstad, Filmmuséet, Feb 07
Vetlanda, Saga, Feb 25
Järfälla, Folkets hus Kallhäll, Mar 22
Upplands Väsby, Centrumbiografen, Mar 23
Halmstad, Röda Kvarn, Filmstudion, Mar 25 
Norrköping, Bio Harlekinen, April 1
Malmö, Spegeln, April 5-18

International Documentary Film Festival DOCVILLE 
Leuven, Belgium 
May 1-8, 2010

Boston Independent Film Festival 
Boston, USA 
April 21-28, 2010

Institute of Contemporary Arts 
London, UK 
April 16-25, 2010

Visions du Réel Film Festival 
Nyon, Switzerland 
April 15-21, 2010

Norsk filminstitutt: Cinemateket
Oslo, Norway 
April 14, 2010

Yale Environmental Film Festival 
New Haven, United States
April 6-11, 2010

International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival 
Kiew, Ukraine 
Mar 26 – Apr 2, 2010

Skövde Dokumentärfilmsfestival 
Skövde, Sweden 
March 25-28, 2010

Cleveland International Film Festival 
Cleveland, OH, United States 
March 18-28, 2010

LA69 Casa de cultura 
Mérida Yucatán, Mexico 
March 25, 2010

Thessaloniki International Film Festival 
Thessaloniki, Greece 
March 12-21, 2010

One World International Film Festival 
Prag, Czech Republic 
March 10-18, 2010

Cinema Planeta
Cuernavaca, Mexico
March 5-14, 2010

Vera Filmfestival
Mariehamn, Åland
March 7, 2010

Washington DC Independent Film & Music Festival 
Washington DC, United States 
March 4-14, 2010

Dunkers kulturhus (Eko-dagarna)
(With director visit)
Helsingborg, Sweden 
Febrary 26-27, 2010

Caligari FilmBuehne Wiesbaden 
Wiesbaden, Germany 
February 24, 2010

Ystad Församling – Film i Fastan 
Ystad, Sweden 
February 21, 2010

Stockholm, Sweden 
February 08-26, 2010

Berlinale International Film Festival 
Berlin, Germany 
February 11-21, 2010

This human world
Vienna, Austria 
December 3-13, 2009

Bratislava International Film Festival 
Bratislava, Slovenia 
Nov 27 – Dec 4, 2009

Oslo International Film Festival 
Oslo, Norway 
November 19-29

Nordox Nordic Documentary Film Festival
Beijing, China 
Nov 14 – Dec 6, 2009

IDFA International Documentary Film Festival 
Amsterdam, Netherlands 
November 19-29, 2009

Festival Européen des 4 écrans
Paris, France 
November 18-20, 2009

Aarhus Filmfestival Aarhus
Aarhus, Denmark 
November 12-15, 2009
(BANANAS!* screens at the kick-off on Sunday, November 8th!)

RIDM – Rencontres internationales du documentaire
Montreal, Canada 
November 11-21, 2009

Sevilla Festival de Cine Europeo
(In competition)
Sevilla, Spain 
November 6-14, 2009

Copenhagen, Denmark 
November 6-15, 2009

Leeds International Film Festival
Leeds, UK
November 4-22, 2009

Ung Forum 
Lund, Sweden 
October 30, 2009

M:DOX Film Festival 
Malmö, Sweden 
October 23-25, 2009

Mostra Internacional de Cinema 
Sao Paulo, Brazil 
Oct 23 – Nov 5, 2009

CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival 
New York, USA 
October 20-24, 2009

Dramatiska institutet 
Stockholm, Sweden 
October 19, 2009

Swedish premiere, October 2009:
Båstad, Scala, Oct 9
Fagersta, Folkets hus, Oct 9
Gusum, Folkan bio, Oct 9
Göteborg, Roy, Oct 9
Göteborg, Haga, Oct 30
Haparanda, Folkets hus, Oct 9
Järfälla, Folkets hus Kallhäll, Oct 9
Karlstad, Arenan, Oct 26-27
Kumla, Folkan, Oct 11
Lidköping, Folkets hus, Oct 23
Lund, Kino, Oct 9
Malmö, Spegeln, Oct 9
Mörrum, Bio Laxen, Oct 9
Norrköping, Harlekinen, Oct 18 & 25
Nynäshamn, Folkets hus, Oct 9
Osby, Bio Borgen, Oct 9
Skärhamn, Saga, Oct 9
Skoghall, Folkets hus, Oct 9
Stockholm, Rio, Oct 9
Stockholm, Zita, Oct 9
Söråker, Folkets hus, Oct 14
Tomelilla, Brösarps bio, Oct 9
Trollhättan, Forum/Folkets hus, Oct 9
Uppsala, Fyris, Oct 9 (no broadcast)
Umeå, Folkets bio, Oct 16
Västerås, Elektra, Oct 9
Växjö, Palladium, Oct 22
Ånge, Folkets hus, Oct 9
Åseda, Folkets hus, Oct 9
Älmhult, Folkan, Oct 13
Örebro, Roxy, Oct 9
Östersund, Regina, Oct 9 (no broadcast)

Doc Lounge screenings:
Göteborg, Sweden, Oct 7
Oulu, Finland, Oct 7
Stockholm, Sweden, Oct 6
Malmö, Sweden, Oct 5
Tampere, Finland, Oct 1
Helsinki, Finland, Sep 25

BANANAS!* gala premiere
Malmö, Sweden
Royal, October 8, 2009

Nordisk Panorama
Reykjavik, Iceland
September 28, 2009

Malmö Filmdagar 
Malmö, Sweden 
August 24-27, 2009

Folkets hus och parkers Filmdagar 
Piteå, Sweden 
August 13-16, 2009

Film i Båstad
Båstad, Sweden 
August 1, 2009

Los Angeles Film Festival 
California, USA 
June 18-28, 2009

May 4, 2009

BANANAS!* – why the asterisk?

Filed under: The Film — admin @ 3:01 pm

What’s hidden under that pretty, yellow skin? What stories can be found? Rebeca Méndez is the designer of the visual identity for BANANAS!*, and in particular responsible for the asterisk behind the title.

“The original movie title BANANAS! had a two-fold edge; it means that bananas are the subject matter of the film, and the exclamation mark makes it into a widely known catch phrase used to exclaim indignity and disbelief about an absurd situation, as in: ‘This mess is so bananas!’ We wanted to add a third dimension of awareness to the title that tells you there is more to find out about bananas. There is a footnote to its jolly image, this information that has been omitted, that once revealed will make you think twice about the food that we consume.”

“The asterisk is our engine to activate a movement, and, in hindsight, it is perhaps also our saving grace. With the addition of an asterisk to the title we acquire this built-in force to expose the rotten state of affairs behind the delicious bananas. The wholesome banana of modern pop culture, one of the most popular fruits in the western world, is not as innocent as it seems. The pesticides used to grow that golden yellow banana are possibly causing widespread disease, deformity and death among the workers and their families on the plantations in the tropical regions of our planet. The asterisk allows us to question this situation. By adding this universally understood typographic character we acquire a method to reveal unjust circumstances and affect behavior. It has the potential to become a tool to unmask unethical business practices in any industry. That’s the idea and ambition. ”

Rebeca MéndezRebeca Méndez

Ms Méndez was creative director at a giant advertising agency, creating multimillion dollar campaign identities for the world’s largest brands. Now she is professor at UCLA in Design and Media Arts, and in her design research and practice concentrates on critical reflections of visual communication practices, in particular on brand identity and consumer culture, to encourage formation of independent opinion and participation.

“When I left advertising I was interested in applying those lessons of mass market messaging to non-profit or cultural organizations, where the motive is not monetary profit, but spreading a social awareness. For example, the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW) approached me in 2003 to give them a new name and visual identity. This resulted in developing the concept of a name like an engine. We gave them the name Peace Over Violence, where “[blank] Over Violence” is the engine, and can be adapted by anyone who wants to sign up to the cause; it can be ‘Juan Over Violence’, ‘Dole Over Violence’, ‘Bananas Over Violence’. Because non-profit agencies and many cultural institutions do not have big budgets to spend on marketing and advertising, you have to find this force within, so it will propel itself and do the work for you. When Fredrik Gertten (the maker of BANANAS!*) saw this work, he asked me to come up with an engine for his movie. His desire and vision was to create a design for all media that encourages you to learn more and get involved. This became the ‘*’ or asterisk.”

With her husband Adam Eeuwens, a writer and strategist and also partner in her studio Rebeca Méndez Design, Méndez developed the core brand identity for BANANAS!*, designing the logotype, its color palette, initial campaign ideas, and a set of brand guidelines. Then she handed the package to her Fall 2008 Visual Communication class of senior students at UCLA, and gave them the assignment to create a comprehensive communication strategy and design across all media for BANANAS!*

“The first step in the creative process is to immerse yourself in research on the subject matter, and the Internet holds a wealth of material, from old commercials with singing bananas on You Tube to Wikipedia facts on the origin of the term “banana republic,” to Dole’s own home page. You explore any lead to ignite the creative spark; to turn strategy into story.”

“For a class course of ten weeks, the students did well, and a lot of their ideas had influence and even a few of their designs made it to the final cut. The BANANAS!* Twitter ticker on the front page on the website picks up on everyone using the word ‘banana,’ ‘pesticides’ and ‘Nicaragua’ in their twitter messages, and is an idea conceived and coded by one the students. And the bananas photos for the poster were made by a student who bought them fresh and photographed the rotting process for weeks until they were completely black and fluid.”

“A lot of the student work followed the angle of the implications of pesticide use on the health of the consumers. One factoid we got from the Swedes was about chimpanzees in the zoo in Copenhagen who eat organic bananas skin and all, while they peel the bananas treated with pesticides. That fact alone changed awareness and a couple of habits in the class. It was interesting to notice that the students have a very keen understanding that everything in the world is connected, and immediately sense that what pesticide goes around at one point must come around. It is obscene to them that personal profit could be more important than the public good.”

Student concept sketch for flag asterisk animations

Film credits

Filed under: The Film — admin @ 2:00 pm

BANANAS!* is produced by WG Film in co-production with:
Magic Hour Films Denmark
ITVS International USA
ZDF in co operation with ARTE (Sabine Bubeck- Paaz)
Film i Skåne (Joakim Strand)
SVT Sweden (Axel Arnö)

With the support from:
Swedish Film Institute (Peter "Piodor" Gustafsson)
Danish Film Institute (Miriam Nørgaard)
Nordisk Film & TV Fond (Eva Færevaag)

In association with:
YLE Finland (Iikka Vehkalathi)
NRK Norway (Tore Tomter)
TSR Switzerland (Gaspard Lamuniere)
VPRO Netherlands (Nathalie Windhorst)
Odisea Spain (Roberto Blatt)

This film was supported by a grant from the
Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program

Developed with the support of the
MEDIA Programme of the European Union

Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer

ITVS International is made possible by:
The Ford Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

ITVS Magic Hour ZDF arte
MEDIA Sundance Odisea VPRO

WG Film
Since 1994 producing and developing author driven documentaries. In Sweden famous for local stories with universal understanding. Also active in the international co-financing world with five documentaries sold to over forty broadcasters in 25 countries.

Full contact details »

Fredrik Gertten


Fredrik GerttenFilmmaker & producer at WG film, Sweden. Fredrik Gertten speaks fluent Spanish and has worked as a journalist in Nicaragua in the eighties and nineties.

Selected films, producer: Milkbar, Dir. Terese Mörnvik & Ewa Einhorn, 2007; Thin Ice, Dir. Håkan Berthas 2006; Belfast Girls, Dir. Malin Andersson, 2006; Boogie Woogie Daddy, Dir. Erik Bäfving, 2002. In development: Cassady Credentials, documentary, Dir. Maria Ramström & Malin Korkeasalo; Forest, documentary, Dir. Helena Nygren & Jacob Andrén. Selected films, producer & director: The Socialist, The Architect & the Twisted Tower, 2005; An Ordinary Family, 2005; Just a piece of steel / Bye Bye Malmö, 2003; Walking on Water, 2000, (co-directed with Lars Westman); The Way Back – True Blue 2, 2002, co-directed with Magnus Gertten and Stefan Berg.

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Margarete Jangård


Margarete JangårdEmployed at WG Film since six years as producer. Has been in the media business for 20 years. Worked as freelance film worker for some years, at SVT Drama and commercial/information films. EAVE graduate 2005.

Projects: Milkbar, Dir. Terese Mörnvik & Ewa Einhorn, 2007; Thin Ice, Dir. Håkan Berthas 2006; Belfast Girls, Dir. Malin Andersson, 2006; The Socialist, The Architect & the Twisted Tower, Dir. Fredrik Gertten, 2005; An Ordinary Family, Dir. Fredrik Gertten, 2005. In development: Cassady Credentials, documentary, Dir. Maria Ramström & Malin Korkeasalo; Forest, documentary, Dir. Helena Nygren & Jacob Andrén.


Bart Simpson

Producer, Canada

Bart Simpson is best known as producer of the feature documentary The Corporation, which has won over 25 international awards and is the highest-grossing domestic documentary in Canadian history. It played theatrically in over 10 countries and ran for over 6 months on screens in Canada and the UK before a popular television premiere. Zeitgeist Films distributed the film in the United States. Bart is also immediate past Chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC).

Selected credits: Moebius Redux: A Life In Pictures, 2007; The Corporation, 2004; Two Brides and a Scalpel, Diary of a Lesbian Marriage, 2000; Visits with Max, director/producer, 1996.


Frank Pineda

Director of photography

Worked in more than 100 productions, documentary and features in 35mm, 16mm and video. Collaborated with some Internationals News Agencies and TV Channels as: NBC, ABC, TVE, BBC, Channel 4, etc. In 1990 sets up Camila Films, an independent production company in Nicaragua. The World Stopped Watching, Dir. Peter Raymont, 2002, The lovers of San Fernando, Dir. Peter Torbiornsson, 2001, Documentary 16mm. SVT. Machos, Dir. Lucinda Broadbent, 2000, Produced by BBC, London. Carla’s Song, Dir. Ken Loach, 1995, feature film, 35mm.

Jesper Osmund


Was born in 1964 and works as an editor since 1991. He has edited 6 fiction feature films, about 35 documentaries and more than 600 commercials. Documentaries include: An Ordinary Family, Dir. Fredrik Gertten/WG Film, 2005; Selection of IDFA Amsterdam, Thessaloniki, Zagreb, Buenos Aires, a.o. The Well, 2004 Dir. K. Petri/Charon Film; Nomination to the Swedish Golden Bug. Festivals of Toronto, Montreal, Seattle, Amsterdam a.o.

Nils Pagh Andersen

Narrative consultant

Denmark’s best documentary film editor with more than 250 films of widely different categories. Some examples of his award winning work are: Pathfinder, 1986 Dir. Nils Gaup; feature nominated for an Oscar; Walking on Water, 2000 Dir. Fredrik Gertten & Lars Westman; Three rooms of Melancholia, 2004 Dir. Pirjo Honkasalo; The Winner of The Grand Prix of Krakow, One world award, Krystalle; Prostitution behind the Veil, 2004 Dir. Nahid Persson, Emmy- nominated, The Grand Prix of Odense Film festival and Nordic Panorama; The German Secret, 2005 Dir. Lars Johansson; Flying Confessions of a Free Woman, 2006 Dir. Jennifer Fox.

Nathan Larson AKA Hot One Inc


Music for film, television and commercials, including among many others: Boy’s Don’t Cry, 1999, Dir. Kim Pierce, Fox Searchlight; A Love Song For Bobby Long, 2004, Dir. Shainee Gabel, El Camino/ Lion’s Gate; Dirty Pretty Things, 2003, Dir. Stephen Frears, Miramax; Phone Booth, 2003, Dir. Joel Schumacher, Fox (“additional music”); Velvet Goldmine, 1998, Dir. Todd Haynes, Miramax.


Joe Aguirre

Director of photography

Joe Aguirre is a freelance camera man based in Los Angeles. In six years of working with director/camera man Samuel Bayer, Joe has collaborated in the filming of commercials for ESPN, Pepsi, Nike, and Microsoft, and music videos for Green Day and My Chemical Romance. He was a camera man on upcoming Sony releases Quarantine and Obsessed, and on Jack Johnson’s 2008 European Tour documentary. Next Year Country, an ITVS funded documentary he directed and shot, will be his directorial debut.

Rebeca Méndez

Designer and creative director

Professor at UCLA Design | Media Arts, is a brand design expert, formerly leading the Brand Integration Group at Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles. Has her own design studio Rebeca Méndez Design since 1996, where she works for clients such as architects Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, and motion graphics powerhouse Imaginary Forces. Méndez is also an exhibiting artist. She has participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide and her work is represented in public and private collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The National Design Museum, New York, Denver Art Museum, and Museo Jose Luis Cuevas, Mexico City.


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