The controversial Swedish documentary film Bananas! by the established Fredrik Gertten is being released on 25 Swedish cinemas this Friday by November Film, and international festivals are lining up invitations, despite pressures from the US food giant Dole Foods to prevent screenings of the film.

In his David vs Goliath documentary Bananas!, Gertten focuses on the highly controversial legal case opposing Nicaraguan plantation workers, represented by Los Angeles lawyer Juan Dominguez, and the US multinational Dole Food Company, who allegedly used a banned pesticide that led to generations of sterilized workers. For producer Margarete Jangård (WG Film), the film is not really about Dole Foods, but about "people's responsibility as consumers, to reflect about the food that is put on their table and the multinationals that make those products."
Nevertheless since June, Dole Foods has been actively trying to discredit the filmmaker and prevent the film from screening. Without success. Gertten and WG Film are now being sued for defamation by Dole Foods, an action that has raised strong criticism from film people and MPs from all political sides in Sweden, in the name of freedom of speech.

The controversy has naturally raised Bananas!'s profile in Sweden, where audiences will be allowed this Friday to judge for themselves on the quality of the documentary film. Elsewhere, the only confirmed theatrical sale is to the UK where Dogwoof Films will release it at the end of 2009. A distribution deal for the US and Canada is also in negotiation, according to sales rep Peter Jäger from Autlook Film Sales. In other territories, theatrical distributors are waiting to see how Swedish audiences will react. For producer Jangård, all European broadcasters who pre-bought the film (including Arte, ZDF, SVT) have decided to screen it simultaneously-probably next Spring- to make a bigger impact. The most enthusiastic response has been from film festivals "despite and thanks to the controversy," says Jäger. The film was co-produced with Magic Hour Films in Denmark, in association with ITVS, ZDF, Arte, Sundance Channel, support from the Swedish Film Institute and Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

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