2009, Movies

Bananas!* (2009, Fredrik Gertten)

This is a maddening, frustrating and outrage-sparking documentary about Dole’s (nee Standard Fruit Company) use of a banned pesticide in Nicaragua (and Costa Rica and Honduras) and how it deeply affected the lives of workers on plantations. There are great things about this movie, including the depiction of actual courtroom arguments, and the clear evidence that Dole ignored Dow’s warning – the warning from the manufacture of the pesticide – to not use said pesticide. But there are problems: it’s clear that the filmmakers befriended one of the attorneys suing Dole and…


once we learn that he has been charged with fraud, we are less sympathetic. It would be nice if the film had included something on the fraud charges, but alas. (Though, apparently, the filmmakers themselves were sued by Dole – which, holy hell, is certainly damning – and there is a film about that, which I have yet to watch.)

The issue I have with the film is this: I don’t know if I should trust the lawyers or if I shouldn’t. I want to trust them and the plaintiffs. But I don’t know if I can trust the film’s version of events. And that’s a big, big problem.


By the way: 6/10 does not mean this film is not worth watching.  It is probably borderline-essential viewing. I just don’t know that I can be more flattering without having more faith in the filmmakers and the faith they placed in a lawyer who has been accused of fraud.

  • Directed by Fredrik Gertten
  • Produced by Lars Bildt, Jade Fox, Fredrik Gertten, Marta Clarissa Hernandez, Margarete Jangård, Lise Lense-Møller, Bart Simpson
  • Starring Byron Rosales Romero, Juan J. Dominguez, Duane Miller,
    Rick McKnight, David Delorenzo, Mercedes Del Carmen Romero
  • Music by Nathan Larson
  • Cinematography by Joseph Aguirre, Frank Pineda
  • Edited by Jesper Osmund
  • Production company: novemberfilm
  • Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories
  • Release date: 20 June 2009
  • Running time: 87 minutes
  • Country: Sweden
  • Language: English

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