Ten years later... BBC buy McLibel

Date 30th Mar 2005

30 March 2005. Press Release from Spanner Films

McLibel film to be broadcast on BBC on the eve of McDonald’s 50th birthday

Franny Armstrong’s documentary ‘McLibel’ will be broadcast on BBC4 on Thurs 14th April at 9pm. It is released in cinemas in USA in May and on DVD worldwide on McDonald’s 50th birthday, 15/4/05. Filmed over ten years, this brand new, 85 minute feature version includes the
McLibel defendants’ victory at the European Court of Human Rights in February 2005.

SYNOPSIS McLibel is the inside story of the postman and gardener who took on McDonald’s. And won. McDonald’s often used the UK libel laws to suppress criticism. Major media organisations like the BBC and The Guardian crumbled and apologised. But then they sued gardener Helen Steel, now 39, and postman Dave Morris, now 50. In the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel Two" represented themselves against McDonald's £10 million legal team. Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage and advertising to children. Outside the courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them. Legal manoeuvres. A visit from Ronald McDonald. Top executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations. Even spies. Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded at the European Court of Human Rights. And the result took everyone by surprise - especially the British Government. McLibel is not just about hamburgers. It is about the importance of freedom of speech now that multinational corporations are more powerful than countries. Filmed over ten years by no-budget Director Franny Armstrong (Drowned Out), McLibel is the David and Goliath story of two people who refused to say sorry. And in doing so, changed the world.

QUOTES “McDonald’s have been raking in their profits for 50 years and all of society has paid the price.” says defendant Dave Morris, “We should look forward to their funeral, not their birthday.” “We had no idea when we got the writs in 1990 that it would turn into a 15 year battle,” says defendant Helen Steel “but there was no way I could ever apologise to McDonald's. It's them who should be apologising to society" “Who said ordinary people can’t change the world?” says Director Franny Armstrong. “In a longterm sense, McDonald’s are in big trouble”, says Eric Schlosser, author of ‘Fast Food Nation’, in the new film, noting that McDonald’s experienced their first ever loss in 2002 and closed 175 restaurants in 10 countries. “McLibel had a great deal to do with that in terms of unleashing this torrent of criticism.” “McLibel definitely paved the way for my movie” says Morgan Spurlock, director of smash hit documentary, ‘Super Size Me’.

RELEASE DATES World Premiere at the Curzon Soho cinema on Saturday April 9th at 4pm, followed by a Q&A with McLibel defendants Helen Steel & Dave Morris and Director Franny Armstrong. BBC broadcast on BBC4 at 9pm on 13th April 2005, two days before McDonald’s 50th birthday. BBC press contact: Nicola Richardson, 020 8752 6988. “Birthday or Last Rites?” public meeting with Helen Steel, Dave Morris, Franny Armstrong and other speakers on McDonald’s 50th birthday, 15/4/05. At Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1. Entrance £3. 6pm till 11pm. Includes screening of the film, launch of the DVD and entertainment. New DVD with more than four hours of extras, including commentary track of all McDonald’s greatest quotes from the last 50 years, voiced by comedian Rob Newman. Available from 15/4/05 from www.spannerfilms.net US Cinema Release in April/ May by Cinema Libre, who distributed hit doc “Outfoxed”. Cinema Libre press contact: World TV Sales. 24 countries currently considering broadcasts.

Sarah Winborn. 07748 647550. www.spannerfilms.net