Pink Ribbons, Inc., the much-lauded documentary by Canada-based Swiss lesbian filmmaker Léa Pool (Lost and Delirious), exposes how some companies have reaped huge profits and visibility by selling products associated with the fight against breast cancer, though those companies actually do little to advance research, treatment, or prevention. What’s more, in the documentary that comes out June 1 in New York and Los Angeles, Pool finds that some corporations may even be contributing to the disease by releasing carcinogens into the environment. She also notes that breast cancer awareness campaigns seldom portray minorities, including lesbians, who constitute a high-risk group.
There’s a bevy of smart women involved in the film, including producer and researcher Ravida Din, who first was given the Samantha King‘s book Pink Ribbons, Inc. by her sister when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and realized soon that it would make a great film.
One of the more interesting women on-screen in Pink Ribbons is Barbara Brenner, the former executive director of Breast Cancer Action, who coined the phrase “Think Before You Pink.” She has been a cancer activist for over 20 years and has gone to battle with the Susan G. Komen Foundation on many occasions.
For director Pool, who lets the women in the film argue that they’ve felt co-opted by the pink mafia of breast cancer fundraisers, says she wants audiences “to be more critical and more politically conscious about our actions and to stop thinking that by buying pink toilet paper we’re doing what needs to be done.… I don’t want to say that we absolutely shouldn’t be raising money. We are just saying, ‘Think before you pink.’ ”