The saga of "Bananas*!" continues with an update to the story that was the heart of Tuesday's cinemadaily published in indieWIRE. "Bananas!*" director Fredrik Gertten, producer Margarete Jangard and production company WG Film is being sued by Dole for including "patent falsehoods" in their documentary, which screened at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival. Reports surfaced today about the lawsuit in the Los Angeles Times and other publications today.
Gertten's lawyer, Richard J. Lee, Esq. of Lee and Lawless, along with WG Film condemned the suit, issuing the following statement:
"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.
It is unfortunate that rather than concentrate its resources toward genuinely addressing the acts it admitted to, and was found liable of committing as covered in the film, Dole instead chooses to stifle even basic discussion by attempting to silence the messenger of a message it dislikes.
Moreover, it is appalling that through this action, Dole is attempting to shift the focus away from its own CEO’s court admission that Dole continued the usage of a banned pesticide even after being informed of its harm by its manufacturer Dow Chemicals, and now on to WG Film which captured that moment on film.
It is important to note that Dole committed to suing WG Film without seeing the film.
There is as of today still a judgment of $1.5 million against Dole arising out of the matters portrayed in the film, which is currently valid pending further proceedings in the Superior Court.
The validity of that judgment has been called into question by the decision of a single judge after highly unusual secret proceedings, which we have not had access to or the opportunity to review. We anticipate that further, public proceedings will be had in the future with regard to the allegations of fraud against plaintiffs and their attorneys.
Nonetheless in all screenings of the film which have occurred to date we have disclosed the judge's findings and put the trial fully in context with events which happened after the completion of this documentary."
During LAFF, the film was a source of controversy after the festival moved "Bananas!*" out of competition and screened it as a "case study." Filmmakers spoke on both sides of the issue, including "Sleep Dealer" director Alex Rivera who wrote a First Person reaction to the film's current tribulations, falling squarely in favor of the filmmakers. iW reached out to some who took the opposite point-of-view, but so far, none have agreed to express a dissenting opinion in print.
[Brian Brooks contributed to this article.]