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November 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A group of Swedish documentary filmmakers who had to defend themselves against a defamation lawsuit by the Dole Food Co. have been awarded $200,000 for their attorneys fees and costs by a Los Angeles judge. The filmmakers, Fredrik Gertten and Margarete Jangard, had produced a documentary titled Bananas! that looked into charges filed by Dole workers in Nicaragua that they had become sterile as a result of being exposed to pesticides while working in Dole banana plantations. Although Nicaraguan courts later threw out the Nicaraguan workers’ charges, claiming that much of their evidence was fabricated, the Swedish filmmakers continued to show their film at film festivals, insisting that it was more about “power relations” than merely the claims of the Nicaraguan workers. In Oct. 2009, Dole dropped its lawsuit against the filmmakers “in light of the free speech concerns being expressed in Sweden.” But the filmmakers legal costs had risen higher than the costs of the film itself. After learning of the judge’s decision, Gertten said, “These conglomerates have unlimited resources available to them to get their messages out, while independent filmmakers who are under attack while trying to uncover the truth, have very limited means to defend ourselves.”