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

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

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.


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  1. THANK YOU lea Pool and NFB for Pink Ribbons. Since being diagnosed in 2009 I have a nagging pang of guilt about NOT participating in the pink mania. But I do not identify myself as a “cancer survivor”, or “living or battling cancer”. I also know well that the funds are not properly tracked an the research not coordinated to offer any efficiency or true mandate. Thank You!

    — Aly,
  2. will this documentary be shown in europe? Cant wait to see it, hope its here before “October” hits!

    — kelly,
    1. Hi Kelly,
      We expect Pink Ribbons Inc. to hit the European festival circuit this fall. We are also working toward general distribution in Europe. Our hope is you’ll be able to see it there in 2012. Keep posted to this blog for updates!

  3. Is there just one showing at tiff on Sept 11? Do you think there will be individual tickets available for sale?

    — Leonore Tiefer,
    1. Hi Leonore,
      Thanks for your question. There will be 3 screenings of Pink Ribbons Inc. at TIFF. The festival’s full schedule will be revealed Aug. 23, and single tickets go on sale Sept. 3.
      Be sure to check the TIFF website next week (after the 23) for screening details. Cheers!

  4. Where else will this film be shown, and when? I do not live in Toronto.

    — anya,
    1. Hi Anya. Thanks for your interest. The film will be screened in theatres across the country this winter. Make sure to check this blog for more updates.

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