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US food giant sues Swedish filmmaker

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US food giant sues Swedish filmmaker
A still from Bananas!*; Filmmaker Fredrik Gertten
09:34 CEST+02:00
A Swedish documentary filmmaker has been sued for defamation by US-based banana producer Dole Foods for a new film featuring a Los Angeles lawyer's fight for Nicaraguan fruit workers.

The film, Bananas!*, depicts the “David versus Goliath” story of efforts by lawyer Juan Dominguez to represent fruit workers who allege they became sterile after Dole sprayed them with a banned pesticide.

“I still never believed that things would go as far as them suing me. Dole came with all these threats before they even saw the film,” said filmmaker Fredrik Gertten to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Gertten's American attorney, Richard J. Lee, criticized Dole's actions.

“My clients and I believe that this suit is without merit and represents the latest in a continued line of intimidating harassment by a multinational corporation aimed squarely at a small, independent film and its filmmakers,” he said in a statement.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in a Los Angeles Court, Dole claims that Gertten “refused to make any meaningful changes to the film, and persisted in publicly screening it and touting its accuracy in the face of court rulings that the story was false and amounted to ‘extortion'”.

Gertten thinks that Dole's threat has helped boost interest in the film, but at the same time it requires “huge amounts of energy and costs money”.

The suit follows Dole's earlier but unsuccessful efforts to block a screening of the film on the sidelines of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

“Almost every night I have a conference call with different people and my lawyers in the United States,” Gertten told DN.

In addition to Gertten, the suit also names his production company – WG Film AB in Malmö – and producer Margarete Jangård.

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