LOS ANGELES — About 300 fans of Frieda Rapoport Caplan turned out for a private screening July 15 of a documentary tracing the colorful career of the founder of Frieda’s Inc., the specialty produce distributor based in Los Alamitos, Calif.
The film — “Fear No Fruit” — was written, directed and produced by Mark Brian Smith and chronicles Caplan’s rise from being the first woman entrepreneur on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market in the 1960s to her role in changing the way many Americans eat by introducing more than 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets.
It tells how, for example, she became known as the “Queen of Kiwi” for her role in popularizing kiwifruit, previously known as Chinese gooseberries.
“Fear No Fruit” features interviews with influential chefs like Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and Michael McCarty; major produce industry figures, including David Karp, Tonya Antle, Dick Spezzano and Steve Jordan; and even former Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks, who now serves as a city councilman.
The film delves into how Caplan helped many boutique fruit and vegetable farmers prosper through her innovative marketing of their products and also touches on California agriculture, the drought, farmers markets and the childhood obesity crisis.
“I got involved with the project because it was a ‘who knew?’ story,” Smith said.
“(Caplan) basically took on the challenge of bringing these obscure products from all over the world during the ‘Mad Men’ era – during a time when it was most difficult to do,” he said.
The film was an official selection at the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival and the 2015 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, and it has generated positive critical response.
Its European premiere was at an exclusive screening following the London Produce Show on June 4.
“Fear No Fruit” has been released on several video-on-demand platforms by digital entertainment curator FilmBuff.
It’s available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox Video, Vudu and Vimeo on Demand. For more information, visit www.fearnofruit.com.