Amidst all the ruckus, resignations and double-talking over Susan G. Komen for the Cure's politically charged move to pull its breast-cancer screening funding from Planned Parenthood, you should also be aware: Dallas-based Komen's actually the subject of a documentary that opens in Canada today that takes a very dim view of Nancy Brinker's efforts to turn the foundation into a corporation fueled by a shiny pink PR campaign. As John Anderson wrote in his Variety review in September, when director Léa Pool's Pink Ribbons, Inc. (based on Samantha King's 2008 book) debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival:
Along with such commentators as author and cancer survivor Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickled and Dimed), Dr. Susan Love, Nancy Brinker of Susan G. Komen for the Cure (which has funneled $1.9 billion into fighting breast cancer and, as several people ask, for what?), the film also turns the spotlight over to ordinary cancer victims, one of whom puts the public-relations spin into very clear perspective. "The message," she says, "is that if you just try really hard, you can beat it. Just try really hard." Those who die, she adds, "weren't trying very hard."
Right now there are no U.S. screenings or release dates scheduled. This morning I asked Jennifer Mair, a publicist for the National Film Board of Canada based out of Toronto, if this week's uproar surrounding the LBJ Freeway-HQ'd Komen has changed their distribution plans. She says the film will be released in the U.S. through New York-based First Run Features. I spoke to someone there this morning, and, no, there are no firm dates for U.S. release. Not yet. "But it's coming up -- later this year, spring or early summer." The trailer's below.
Update at 10:15 a.m.: Komen just issued this statement apologizing for "recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives." It also says it "will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities."
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Update at 10:45 a.m.: Also, this just in -- a statement from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the daughter of the late Texas governor Ann Richards. It's below, but says, in short: "We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers."
Here's Cecile Richards's statement in full:
"The outpouring of support for women in need of lifesaving breast cancer screening this week has been astonishing and is a testament to our nation's compassion and sincerity.
"During the last week, millions spontaneously joined a national conversation about lifesaving breast cancer prevention care and reinforced shared values about access to health care for all. This compassionate outcry in support of those most in need rose above political, ideological, and cultural divides, and will surely be recognized as one of our nation's better moments during a contentious political time. Planned Parenthood thanks each and every person who has contributed to elevating the importance of breast cancer prevention for so many women in need.
"In recent weeks, the treasured relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood has been challenged, and we are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women. We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers. What these past few days have demonstrated is the deep resolve all Americans share in the fight against cancer, and we honor those who are at the helm of this battle.
"Planned Parenthood has been a trusted partner with the Komen Foundation in early cancer detection and prevention services. In particular, Planned Parenthood helps the Komen Foundation reach vulnerable populations -- low-income women, African-American women, and Latinas -- especially in rural areas and underserved communities where Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of health care. With Komen Foundation grants, over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals. With the outpouring of support over the past week, even more women in need will receive lifesaving breast cancer care."