June 17, 2009

LAFF Reps Explain 'Bananas!*' Backing

The LA Times covered the ongoing battle over Bananas!* today detailing the Dole Food Co.'s attempts to get the documentary removed from the Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs from June 18-28.

Bananas!* covers the case of Nicaraguan banana laborers, represented by L.A. attorney Juan Dominguez, against the companies that they claim poisoned them with pesticides. However recent fraud charges against Dominguez called rulings seen in the film into question.

The film was accepted by the film festival for screening prior to the recent developments. LAFF has since taken it out of the competition and turned it into a "case study."

There are two screening and discussions of the film, Sat., June 20 and Mon., June 22. Bananas!* director Fredrik Gertten has also been added to the Filmmaker Lunch Talks special event on Mon. June 22 at 12:30 pm. Get the latest info at http://www.lafilmfest.com/2009.

The festival's director Rebecca Yeldham explained her reasoning for the film's inclusion in the LAT piece:

"We feel that, responsibly, we need to be able to present that movie to our audiences," Yeldham said. The filmmaker, she said, had acted in "good faith" in making the movie.

"This is the filmmaker's point of view. It's not ours," Yeldham said. "We do not program only movies that reflect our subjectivity."

Dole lawyer Scott Edelmam is quoted as countering: "It's a phony, fraudulent story that was made up in one of the worst frauds that I've ever seen in a court in 25 years of practice. Our position is, even if the filmmaker didn't know this at the outset, he knows it now and the film should not be screened. It needs to be entirely rewritten to reflect the facts."

The article points out that "Edelman said he had not yet seen the film because neither Gertten nor the festival had agreed to show it to him. The filmmaker and festival organizers said they had invited Dole representatives to attend Saturday night's screening."

Sounds like a good time. In the meantime, check out the trailer below and get updates on the Bananas!* website.