McLibel (film)
McLibel is a documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 directed by Franny Armstrong
Franny Armstrong
Franny Armstrong is a British documentary film director working for her own company, Spanner Films, and a former drummer with indie pop group The Band of Holy Joy...

 and Ken Loach
Ken Loach
Kenneth "Ken" Loach is a Palme D'Or winning English film and television director.He is known for his naturalistic, social realist directing style and for his socialist beliefs, which are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as homelessness , labour rights and child abuse at the...

 for Spanner Films
Spanner Films
Spanner Films is a small London-based documentary company founded by film director Franny Armstrong in 1997. Notable productions include the no-budget epic McLibel - the story of a postman and a gardener who took on McDonald's and won, with courtroom reconstructions by Ken Loach, and Drowned Out ,...

 about the McLibel case
McLibel case
McDonald's Corporation v Steel & Morris [1997] EWHC QB 366, known as "the McLibel case" was an English lawsuit filed by McDonald's Corporation against environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris over a pamphlet critical of the company...

. The film was first completed, as a 52 minute television version, in 1997, after the conclusion of the original McLibel trial. It was then extended with new footage to 85 minute feature length in 2005, after the McLibel defendants took their case to the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...



The 1997/52 minute version was shown at film festivals worldwide, and bought for TV in about ten countries. The 2005/85 minute version was released theatrically in the UK, USA, Australia and other countries and sold to TV round the world, notably to BBC2 (as part of their prestigious "Storyville Classics" season, where it achieved one million viewers at 10pm on a Sunday night) and CBC in Canada.
The film features courtroom reconstructions of the trial directed by notable UK film director Ken Loach
Ken Loach
Kenneth "Ken" Loach is a Palme D'Or winning English film and television director.He is known for his naturalistic, social realist directing style and for his socialist beliefs, which are evident in his film treatment of social issues such as homelessness , labour rights and child abuse at the...

, who gave his time for free. It also features interviews with Eric Schlosser
Eric Schlosser
Eric Schlosser is an American journalist and author known for investigative journalism, such as in his books Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness and Chew On This.- Personal History :...

, author of Fast Food Nation
Fast Food Nation
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal is a book by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry....

, Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Valentine Spurlock is an American documentary filmmaker, humorist, television producer, screenwriter and journalist best known for the documentary film Super Size Me...

, Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer, QC, is a barrister in England and Wales. He became the fourteenth Director of Public Prosecutions and the sixth head of the Crown Prosecution Service on 1 November 2008...

 (who provided free legal support to the McLibel defendants for many years, first as a barrister, then as a QC; later in 2008 he became the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales
Director of Public Prosecutions (England and Wales)
The Director of Public Prosecutions of England and Wales is a senior prosecutor, appointed by the Attorney General. First created in 1879, the office was unified with that of the Treasury Solicitor less than a decade later before again becoming independent in 1908...

), and Howard Lyman
Howard Lyman
Howard F. Lyman - American farmer and animal welfare activist who is known for his actions promoting vegetarian nutrition and organic farming....

 of Oprah/Mad Cow infamy.


McLibel was broadcast on BBC2 in 2005, to an estimated 1 million viewers. It was then also broadcast on TV in 15 countries – including Australia, Canada and the USA – and released on DVD worldwide. McLibel was released in cinemas and DVD stores in the USA in summer 2005 and this was followed in the UK in 2006.


, the producers estimate that more than 25 million people have seen the film.
The film has a 100% positive rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

, based on 11 reviews.
Metacritic gave the film a rating of 81% based on 4 reviews.

Dennis Harvey of Variety magazine describes it as "an alarming if ultimately inspiring David-and-Goliath parable for today".

Wendy Ide in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

described McLibel as “a very watchable little film about a big battle”. The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times is a newspaper serving Seattle, Washington, US. It is the largest daily newspaper in the state of Washington. It has been, since the demise in 2009 of the printed version of the rival Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle's only major daily print newspaper.-History:The Seattle Times...

said “An irresistible David and Goliath tale… you can’t help but cheer along”, and The Sydney Morning Herald
The Sydney Morning Herald
The Sydney Morning Herald is a daily broadsheet newspaper published by Fairfax Media in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1831 as the Sydney Herald, the SMH is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Australia. The newspaper is published six days a week. The newspaper's Sunday counterpart, The...

called it “An extraordinary example of independent filmmaking”. A Time Out London reviewer said “a radical screen full that will satisfy both head and heart”

McLibel was nominated for numerous awards, including the Grierson Documentary Award (Grierson Awards
Grierson Awards
The Grierson Awards celebrate innovative and exciting new documentary films. The awards have been set up by The Grierson Trust to commemorate the life and work of world renowned Documentary Filmmaker John Grierson. The awards were first set-up in 1972 and have run annually...

) and the British Independent Film Awards
British Independent Film Awards
The Moët British Independent Film Awards is an annual award ceremony celebrating achievement in independently funded British film and cinema. Nominations and jury are announced at the beginning of November with the award ceremony taking place in late November or early December.-History:The British...

. It was picked for the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to:-Cinemas:The BFI runs the BFI Southbank and IMAX theatre, both located on the south bank of the River Thames in London...

's prestigious series, "Ten Documentaries which Changed the World".

Home media

The DVD version was released in 2005 and features more than six hours of extras, including a spoof McDonald's commentary track from comedian Rob Newman.

External links

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