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Rethinking The Documentary

By Shawna Rich-Ginsberg September 29 2015

In 2009 Rethink Breast Cancer launched Breast Fest, the world’s only film festival dedicated to breast cancer issues, advocacy and awareness.  Our goal, like always, was to “rethink” the ways in which we share information on breast cancer, and create meaningful discussion in order to unpack some of the issues that young women with breast cancer face.

Film makes stories accessible and often sheds light on complex issues and emotions.  From 2009 – 2014 Rethink would go on to screen over 50 films at Breast Fest, and create a speaker series that examined issues like metastatic cancer, cancer and the environment, cultural understandings of cancer, comedy and cancer, the politics of cancer, and body image and cancer.

In true Rethink fashion we decided it wasn’t enough to generate and join these discussions, we wanted to create our own films to change the conversation so that the unique needs of young women concerned about and affected by breast cancer were front and center.

We were interested in sharing the stories and experiences of these incredible young women so that other women going through the same thing didn’t feel so isolated, no matter where they were in the world.  And so that those who knew nothing about being young and having cancer, or metastatic cancer, or being high risk for having cancer were a bit more educated and able to advocate for those that need it.  Inadvertently, we also discovered just how powerful and healing story-telling can be through the responses we have received to the films globally, and from the women and families who took part in them.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Rethink will have all three of our documentaries screened on national television.  There couldn’t be a more timely opportunity for us to challenge and rethink the cause through our films, during a month that focuses on pink ribbons, and pink marketing.

As our future vision is set to create more digital resources which will help to educate, empower and advocate for women worldwide who are concerned and affected by breast cancer; we hope you will watch along and be inspired to share your own personal story to effect change.

Here is a complete listing of Rethink Breast Cancer films and airdates:

Leanne on Boat

About Her (60 min) Directed by Phyllis Ellis tells the intimate story of nine young women facing life in the wake of their HER2+ breast cancer diagnosis.  Filled with humour and candour, each woman’s unique experience is woven together into a shared portrait of each painful and hopeful chapter of discovery, treatment and recovery, punctuated by excerpts from one women’s acclaimed blog voiced by Kim Cattrall.  About Her won the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary at the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards and was Presented at the Breast Cancer in Young Women conference in Dublin in 2014 and the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival in 2013. Most recently About Her was screened in Denver at the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Conference, and will be screened at Soho House Toronto on Monday October 5th for members only at 9pm.

  • October 15th Sundance Channel (Canada) 10:30 pm EST
  • October 16th Sundance Channel (Canada) 12:00 pm EST


I AM ANNA (34 min) is a documentary about Anna Craig – mother, daughter, wife, artist, architect and young woman living with metastatic breast cancer. Anna sets out to create a legacy by which her children and husband will remember her – an addition to their house – as well as create a legacy to improve support for young women with metastatic cancer. I AM ANNA was presented at the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology Conference in Montreal and will also be screened at the 3rd Advanced Breast Cancer Conference in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2015.

  • October 8th Sundance Channel (Canada) 10:30pm EST
  • October 9th Sundance Channel (Canada) 12:00pm EST


As part of a National High Risk Project, Rethink Breast Cancer created HIGH RISK (25 min) a film that interviews seven young women to illuminate their experience – how they found out about their risk of breast cancer, the impact of this information on their lives, and what decisions they have made or are making to address this risk. Director Jessica Edwards lends an informed perspective coming from a family with members who carry the BRCA2 gene mutation and have had to face their increased risk. HIGH RISK premiered at the Canadian High Risk Forum in Toronto this past spring and will be screened at Soho House Toronto for members only on October 5th at 7pm, followed by a Q&A with Director Jessica Edwards, and Founder + Executive Director MJ DeCoteau, of Rethink Breast Cancer.

  • October 1st Sundance Channel (Canada) 10:30pm EST
  • October 2nd Sundance Channel (Canada) 12:00pm EST
  • October 7th OWN (Canada) 6:00pm EST
  • October 30th Cosmo TV (Canada) 5:00pm EST