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Swedish MPs back filmmaker's battle with US food giant

Swedish MPs back filmmaker's battle with US food giant

Published: 01 Oct 2009 17:37 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Oct 2009 17:37 GMT+02:00

Several members of Sweden’s parliament expressed their support on Thursday for a Swedish-made documentary film that is the target of a lawsuit by Dole Foods.

The film, Bananas!*, is billed as “The film Dole doesn’t want you to see” and depicts efforts by Los Angeles trial lawyer Juan Dominguez to represent fruit workers allegedly made sterile after Dole sprayed them with a banned pesticide.

Dole recently filed a lawsuit against Fredrik Gertten, the Swedish filmmaker behind the movie, claiming the film is inaccurate and defamatory toward the company.

The food giant was also successful in blocking a previously scheduled screening of the film in Los Angeles.

Dole’s actions caused two Swedish parliamentarians, Mats Johansson of the Moderate Party and Social Democrat Luciano Astudillo, to schedule a screening of the film in a show of support for Gertten.

Following the showing, a petition circulated through the packed house urging Dole to drop their lawsuit.

Among those in attendance was attorney Percy Bratt, current chair of the Swedish Helsinki Commission, who expressed his support for the film and its creators.

“It’s not just hot air or empty rhetoric from my side. We can’t accept that filmmakers are silenced in this way,” he told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“Besides, the film is really good and gives the underprivileged a chance to have their criticism of a big company heard, so this is really about the heart of freedom of speech, one of the most sacred parts of our constitution, and something that all politicians, lawyers, and journalists need to support.”

In its lawsuit, Dole requests that the Bananas!* be banned and that Gertten be prohibited from commenting on the company, a set of demands that Moderate Riksdag member Hans Wallmark finds hard to accept.

“It’s not even about Dole,” he said of the film to DN.

“But through their lawsuit against the films creators Dole has done itself a disservice.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:27 October 1, 2009 by Atlas
The best PR ever: Company sues filmmaker, his film gets prime time everywhere and it's practically free on news around the world :).

No money could have done that better.
21:01 October 1, 2009 by mkvgtired
Wow what a surprise, the article (or probably the film) does not mention how the law firm recruited as many people as they could to testify in court (to increase the class action status, and the payout). Or how they had South American doctors file fraudulent reports on their behalf. Or how it was found out the law firm coached the workers to lie under oath to gather sympathy. Oddly all these facts are missing. Dont get me wrong companies' actions have hurt employees (usually in the poorer parts of the world) but it is disgusting how these sleazy law firms fraudulently increase the "victims" just to increase the settlement payout.

The same thing will happen with the Shell lawsuit. Hundreds (if not thousands) of people will be gathered to testify. Many will have never been harmed by the company, but the promise of free money will lure them, and the law firm will get extra tens of millions of dollars, all for a little white lie. No one gets hurt, well except those working for the company who are laid off due to the financial strains, oh and the workers that actually WERE harmed and have to accept a much smaller settlement due to the freeloaders. Sick that this movie promotes this.
21:26 October 1, 2009 by frey
i wish i could see the film, but i guess in the us business interests come first, just like a colonial trading company should be run.
04:39 October 2, 2009 by crunchy2k
Comment: Hmmm... What we have here is a film that was made to bolster a frivolous lawsuit by a sleazy L.A. tort lawyer, Juan Dominguez. We have a court ordered injunction from the California judge that tossed the frivolous case out.

From the letter sent to the Swedish MPs from Dole Foods:

[Bold type added]

Bananas trailer posted before the bottom fell out from under sleazy tort lawyer Juan Dominguez and his tool, Fredrik Gertten... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VYPQ6jJKWY
11:43 October 2, 2009 by bubbagump
So the govt. can support journalists, but not criticize. Interesting. If the excuse by Rhiney was that the govt. can't interfere one way or the other, how is it they are wading into this issue. Typical, typical, typical. Can't have your tårta and eat it too.
00:06 October 3, 2009 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Bingo Bubba.

The blatanty hypocrisy is amazing. I guess being smug is what matters most.
22:58 October 3, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
Right On Mr. Gump!

I now would really like to know EXACTLY WHAT the government's rights and responsibilities are when it comes to the PRESS!

Does PRESS only mean WRITTEN information and therefore the government can say ANYTHING they want concerning the other press media???

Enquiring Minds Want To Know!
11:50 October 4, 2009 by crunchy2k
Well technically, Fredrik is not a journalist but a fiction filmmaker. That's what his contemporaries think. So, it might be okay to support him at the government level. Not smart though. Only Fredrik thinks his film is real and that he is a journalist.

From a story written by Amanda Bronstad at The National Law Journal, dated July 9, 2009:

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202...&hbxlogin=1
12:19 October 4, 2009 by crunchy2k
Fixed URL: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202432115420

Text Quote:

"On June 20, the Los Angeles Film Festival provided a written statement to audience members saying that "there seems to be little question that the version of reality that the film portrays does not match the reality that emerged in the courtroom ... Nor, given what we now know, do we believe that Bananas! -- in its present form -- presents a fair and accurate account of Juan Dominguez and the Tellez trial," according to the complaint."
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