A scene from "Pink Ribbons, Inc.." (First Run Features )
Based on Samantha King's book of the same name, Canadian filmmaker Léa Pool's trenchant critique of breast cancer "culture," "Pink Ribbons, Inc." questions the lucrative partnership between the pink ribbon campaign, corporations and cause marketing.
Exploring how companies selling "everything from handguns to gasoline" — including those whose own products contain carcinogens — have cozied up to the movement, the film concludes they've bought a lot of good publicity but little in the way of medical progress.
Even after massive fundraising efforts ($1.9 billion in the last 30 years fromSusan G. Komen for the Curealone), a woman's lifetime odds of contracting the disease have narrowed from 1 in 22 in 1940 to 1 in 8 today. Little of that money has made its way into research into causes, notably environmental factors like contaminants from plastics or livestock treated with hormones, the film argues.
Instead the push has been for early detection and developing a cure—two areas that benefit pharmaceutical companies but not necessarily patients, a mere 20% — 30% of whom come from high-risk groups. You can't cure what you don't understand is one of the film's sobering messages.
Blending expert testimony with emotional appeals from a support group for women diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, this stinging indictment raises an all-together different call to arms.
"Pink Ribbons, Inc." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. At Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica, and Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.