Big Boys Gone Bananas!* Review

Film Still
  • Big Boys Gone Bananas!* film still


A nifty, rou documentary examining the further adventures of Banana-industry whistle-blower, Fredrik Gertten.

What do you do when you make a film exposing the unsavoury operations of a multinational corporation, only to be threatened with a hefty lawsuit weeks before you’re due to hit the festival circuit hoping to secure international distribution? Make a film about it, of course.

In 2009, Swedish documentary maker Fredrik Gertten followed a court case in which a group of Nicaraguan plantation workers successfully sued Dole Food Company, Inc. for use of a banned pesticide that apparently made them sterile. After becoming aware of the resulting film, Bananas!*, and Gertten’s plans to launch it at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Dole, determined not to let their name be tarnished any further, slapped Gertten with a cease and desist order on the grounds that he was peddling a gross fabrication.

Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is an intriguing look at what happens when the little guy stands his ground, a David versus Dole-iath story if you will, in which Gertten and his producers lawyer up and take on the largest food manufacturer on the planet. As the conflict escalates, Gertten looks to be in serious danger of being nailed to the wall, but he keeps his camera rolling and captures every ugly detail of the bloodthirsty spin campaign that’s targeted at him.

And yet, despite Gertten coming across as an amusingly unflappable and altogether decent bloke, you really start to question whether there’s an ulterior agenda at play here. The sweet irony for Bananas!* was that the publicity drummed up by Gertten’s legal battle ultimately ensured that his film reached a much wider audience than it otherwise would have.

But Big Boys… seems pre-occupied with raising its own profile through constant self-reflexivity, while being far less interested in thoroughly scrutinising the bullying brand tactics employed by faceless corporate giants.

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