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Mondo Banana 

When: Wed., Aug. 27, 6 p.m. 2014
Price: free
There are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas in the world, ranging in color from blue to orange, with flavors as nuanced as fine wine. While the Cavendish preferred by Americans is, in fact, a sexless clone, the relationship between humanity and bananas is anything but sterile. At 60 minutes, the documentary Mondo Banana just begins to tap into the rich cultural significance of what is thought to be the earth’s first fruit. Surprisingly, the doc circumvents the political influence of bananas, including the disturbing origins of the term “banana republic,” focusing instead on the fruit’s unique cultural role in exorcisms, folk tales, shadow plays, magic potions, shoe polish, and dragon dances, as well as on the critical responsibility of citizen scientist and solitary obsessive Markku Häkkinen, whose drive to identify all the world’s wild bananas may be the only thing that will save the Cavendish we have grown to love. At times Mondo Banana feels a bit like an undergraduate film, with awkward segues and clunky intertitles, but the subject matter is so complex and surprisingly strange, we found ourselves hoping for a sequel.
— Silke Tudor


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