An Interesting Turn of Events

The Austin Fair Trade Film Festival has recently hit a speed bump due to legal issues surrounding the screening of the film, The Price of Sugar. The local paper, The Austin Chronicle, ran a brief article on-line today:

Suing Over ‘Price of Sugar’

D.C.-based lobby firm Patton Boggs is pressuring a local nonprofit to cancel its planned screening of an award-winning documentary. The Price of Sugar is among the films scheduled at the Austin Fair Trade Film Festival, a May 8 event to be held by Ten Thousand Villages of Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse South. The documentary, which won the South by Southwest 2007 Emerging Visions audience award and is available through Netflix, examines human rights abuses in the Dominican Republic. The Austin store received a letter on April 8 from Patton Boggs asking them to cancel the screening, claiming the film contains inaccuracies about its clients the Vicini family and noting that the film’s producers are currently being sued for defamation. Attorneys told festival organizers that they, too, could be sued if the screening goes ahead. The store’s board of directors will meet May 2 to consider its options. Board member Sharon Matheny said she worries that, even though Patton Boggs cannot legally block the screening, the festival may dump the film to avoid being sued. She explained, “If you’re standing in the way of a speeding semi, and everyone’s telling you, ‘It’s ridiculous, but he’s going to keep going and run over you,’ are you just going to stand there?” – Richard Whittaker