Films on Lawsuits

Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

Documentary 2011 NR. 1hr 42m. Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is the follow-up to the 2009 film titled simply BANANAS!*, the true story about a Swedish filmmaker and a banana corporation. This fascinating new documentary follows the battle between the Swedish filmmakers and the fruit giant Dole Food Company, which conducted a legal and publicity campaign against the filmmakers to prevent the showing of their first film about a lawsuit won in Los Angeles against the company for its use of banned pesticides in Nicaragua that make field workers sterile. What is a big corporation capable of in order to protect its brand? Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten’s experienced this recently: dirty tricks, lawsuits, manipulation, at the price of free speech.  This film is a must-watch (even if you haven’t seen the original film BANANAS!*) about just how powerful multi-national corporations are, and how the media continues to fail the public or worse than that, deceive and lull us into complacency. American media has been corrupted by corporate power through corporate ownership, corporate advertising, and global corporations who threaten to pull advertising if investigative journalism displeases them. In 1998 the Cincinatti Enquirer did an expose of hometown Chiquita Corp. similar to Gertten’s BANANAS!*, but Chiquita forced them to scrub the story, fire the two reporters, pay $15 million to Chiquita, and run a headline apologizing to Chiquita. Shame on you Dole. This Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is a David vs. Goliath, showing filmmaker Gertten fighting for the right of documentary filmmakers to do what they feel is right, and that is to expose bad practices of big corporations. Unfortunately Goliath always has more money because the big corporations targeted have deep pockets to file lawsuits, in this case to sue to keep the film from being seen. Dole has 75,000 employees in 90 countries, and earns seven billion dollars a year, making them the biggest food company in the world. “So the stage is set. In one corner, Dole the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, fortified with high-priced attorneys and spin-doctors. In the other corner, a Swedish independent filmmaker, armed with his conviction of what is right. What are the odds he’ll win?”  See Full Review

Bananas!*

Documentary 2009 NR 87 minutes. Nicaraguan laborers are paying a high price health-wise while working to get cheap bananas onto the world’s tables, and Southern California personal injury lawyer Juan Dominguez has decided to do something about it. This film tells his story. Swedish director Fredrik Gertten follows Dominguez as he takes on corporate giants Dole Food and Dow Chemical on behalf of 10,000 banana workers made ill by a pesticide used in Nicaraguan plantations years after it was banned in the States. This 2009 film titled BANANAS!* was followed by a sequel film two years later in 2011 titled Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

McLibel

Documentary 2005 NR 85 minutes. Using carefully reenacted courtroom scenes, director Franny Armstrong brings the other trial of the century to life, chronicling the world-famous libel suit brought by fast-food franchise McDonald’s against British activists Helen Steel and Dave Morris. The two activists were sued my McDonald’s for handing out fliers critical of Mc Donald’s. They refused to apologize, and the trial lasted over a year. They did not have a lawyer and represented themselves in an attempt to prove that their claims were not false. This is the story of a big corporation making a mistake and suing people for speaking their mind… which leads to these same people still speaking their mind, except now they have a national (and unltimately international) stage. It shows the extent that companies are willing to go to, simply to protect their profit. Far from focusing on hamburgers and fries, this fascinating documentary tells the story of two ordinary folks who endure a Big Mac attack of epic proportions — just for asking a simple question. This is an enlightening, frightening, and intriguing documentary, of two working-class folk and their court battle against a global corporation’s attempts to quell dissent and free speech. It is also a revealing expose of the bombardment of advertising that is squarely aimed at children (“they exert immense influence on their parent’s choices of where to eat”); unsanitary and barbaric food processing; mechanized working environments and paltry wages; and fast food’s influence on obesity and health problems. Equally as appalling was McDonald’s expenditure of millions of dollars to hire a high-powered legal team, whilst David and Helen ended up representing themselves in court. Drained but determined, these two managed to fight their own battle, and also to establish a Web site to keep the spotlight burning. The documentary is a wake-up call for more responsible consumerism, and even more significantly, for greater participation in the world in which we live.

Philadelphia

Drama 1993 PG-13 125 minutes. In this heartfelt drama, Philadelphia attorney Andrew Beckett launches a wrongful termination suit against the hand that feeds him when his law firm finds out about his HIV-positive status — and his homosexuality — and fires him.

The Verdict

Drama 1982 R 129 minutes. A washed-up, ambulance-chasing attorney gets a chance at redemption when his friend tosses him an open-and-shut medical malpractice case. But instead of accepting an easy cash settlement, he takes the powerful defendant to court.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Drama 1962 NR 130 minutes. Southern comforts abound in this big-screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel as lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in an Oscar-winning role) defends an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges but ends up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice. Meanwhile, with help from a friend (John Megna), Finch’s children, Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham), set their sights on making contact with a reclusive neighbor (Robert Duvall). See Full Review

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