Pink Ribbons INC.

Léa Pool doc on the breast cancer industry set to debut at TIFF


Almost everyone has bought (or at the very least seen) pink products and ribbons sold to fund breast cancer research. Socks, coffee mugs, lipstick, rubber bracelets, magnets, earrings, party supplies – you name it. And most of us have friends, relatives or neighbours who have run, jumped, biked or walked for the cure. In recent years, breast cancer has become the poster child of corporate cause-related marketing. Its products and calls to action are ubiquitous (from the bank, to the gas station, to the pharmacy), we can’t help but feel we’re collectively engaged in a highly-successful battle against breast cancer, and that indeed, we are very close to finding a cure.

An NFB documentary, which was just announced will premiere at TIFF this September, sets out to investigate the flipside of this success. Titled Pink Ribbons Inc., and directed by Léa Pool, the feature documentary raises a critical eye on the “pink ribbon industry” and dares ask questions rarely (if ever) debated in the public sphere.

Where does all the money go? What have all the funds achieved so far? Because beyond all the empowerment rhetoric, the reality of breast cancer is still pretty grim. The sad truth is mortality rates have not significantly changed in 60 years. In the US, women still have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer. Moreover, women diagnosed with breast cancer today face the same treatment options (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) they did 40 years ago when the “War Against Cancer” was declared. So what is going on?

Pink Ribbons, Inc. looks at how the breast cancer movement has moved from activism to consumerism and challenges viewers to rethink their assumptions about the meaning of breast cancer in our society. Featuring interviews with an array of experts, authors, activists and medical professionals, it also includes the participation of leading players in breast cancer fundraising and marketing.

For a taste of what is to come, here is a short clip:

Make sure to check this blog for release dates. For more information about the world premiere, please visit the TIFF website.