Bonita: Ugly Bananas

My first film about banana workers. Ecuador/Scotland, 23 mins.

Watch the film here: Bonita: Ugly Bananas

As someone who used a video camera to document testimonies, I found myself in possession of unique material and needed to tell the story of the events I had witnessed – a story that would otherwise have been suppressed. Bonita: Ugly Bananas is the story of banana workers who stood up to Ecuador’s most powerful oligarch and the price they paid for their actions.

The film has been broadcast on television in Britain, Venezuela and Ecuador, where it was screened to coincide with the presidential campaign when Alvaro Noboa, plantation owner, was running for president. It has been screened at festivals including Document International Human Rights Film Festival, Glasgow, Cine Pobre, Cuba and was awarded Best Documentary at Deep Fried Film Festival, Scotland. Bonita is used as educational resource for schools and NGOs such as Banana Link, The Fairtrade Foundation, Ecologistas en Acción (Andalucía), Scottish Trade Union Congress and Friends of the Earth (Scotland).

Banana worker, Alex Mata,  injured during the attack against Los Alamos workers - he had a bullet lodged in his head. Photo: © Jan Nimmo

Banana worker, Alex Mata, injured during the attack against Los Alamos workers – he had a bullet lodged in his head. Photo: © Jan Nimmo


When Scottish artist, Jan Nimmo, travels to Ecuador, the world’s largest exporter of bananas, to gather workers’ testimonies, she observes the formation of the first trade unions in the banana sector for 30 years. The Los Alamos banana workers decide to go on strike for the most basic of rights. But the company which owns the plantation, Bonita Brands, is owned by Alvaro Noboa, Ecuador’s richest man and serial presidential candidate. Alvaro Noboa doesn’t like unions. Bonita is the world’s fourth largest banana company yet the workers earn a pittance, are exposed to a cocktail of toxic agrochemicals and their living conditions are appalling. Bonita is a powerful eyewitness account of what happens to workers who dare to stand up against a powerful oligarch…..


Jan Nimmo

Jan and Chaparro. Photo: Paul Barham ©

Jan and Chaparro. Photo: Paul Barham ©

I am a Glasgow based artist and filmmaker. My work is essentially about sharing peoples’ stories through artwork, film and writing. I am especially interested in agriculture, the lives of working people and Latin American popular culture.

I have worked with banana and pineapple workers in Latin America and Central Africa since 2000. I want workers’ testimony to help us, the consumers, to understand that the work is backbreaking, that a 12 hour day may be routine and that workers are often exposed to harmful, toxic chemicals. It is often difficult or impossible for workers to join a trade union in order to defend the most basic of rights so international solidarity is important. My work has been to make portraits (both woodcuts prints and photographs), installations, documentary films and to write about the experiences of banana workers.

Deleafer, Banana Plantation, Cameroon. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

Deleafer, Banana Plantation, Cameroon. Photo: Jan Nimmo ©

I have travelled extensively in Latin America and am interested in Mexican and Guatemalan popular art and Cuban traditional music. Because I have a great affection for Mexico and am concerned about human right violations so I make artwork in solidarity with people and campaigns there. Since 2014 I have been making portraits in solidarity with the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero Mexico. These took a year to make and I continue to make work about Ayotzinapa. The portraits have been exhibited in the Scottish Parliament and thanks to human rights activist, Eréndira Sandoval Carrillo, my has work reached the parents of the missing students. The work has almost taken on a life of its own in Mexico and is frequently seen in the hands of the families at meetings and marches or decorating the Normalista college in Ayotzinapa, where the students were studying to become primary teachers. Recently I have made work in collaboration with with the families of miners who worked in a coal mine in northern Mexico, Pasta de Conchos, where 65 miners were killed in an underground explosion. Their bodies have never been recovered so the work is about naming them and remembering them.


Yo, Jan Nimmo,Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Giovanni Galindrez Guerrero. Artwork: Jan Nimmo ©

I am making portraits and gathering the testimonies of the agricultural workers in the Sierra de Huelva, a place I know like the back of my hand, thanks to my horse, Chaparro. Cork oaks are the backdrop to my rides there so I have gradually become involved in gathering moving and still images of cork, cork oaks and the people who work in this slow burning, sustainable but precarious industry. More drawings here:

Rafael, Cork Harvester, Sierra de Huelva. Drawing: jan Nimmo ©

Rafael, Cork Harvester, Sierra de Huelva. Drawing: jan Nimmo ©

Closer to home, I have been involved in an oral history project “The Road to Drumleman” about the coal mine in Kintyre where my father worked as a young man. I made a film but want to continue to gather people’s stories about the Argyll Colliery. I have made a series of portraits of people associated with the mine and am currently leading a heritage/arts project in Kintyre. Here is the blog and you can view the drawings here:

Neil Nimmo, Shot-firer, Argyll Colliery. Drawing: Jan Nimmo ©

Neil Nimmo, Shot-firer, Argyll Colliery. Drawing: Jan Nimmo ©

I am interested in sustainable growing and food. I share an allotment, “Plot 16” with my husband. We also like to forage both in Scotland and in Spain.

My “bread and butter” work is facilitating community arts projects, educational work and graphic design. One of the most recent projects that I facilitated here in Scotland was A View From Here with Scottish Refugee Council, where I worked as Visual Arts Coordinator.