Culture

'Pink Skies' and 'Carpet Racers' on Documentary Channel During the Week of 3/5

Documentary Channel celebrates Women's History Month with a series of films.

Documentary Channel celebrates Women's History Month with a series of films. This week's offerings include Pink Skies and Carpet Racers. The first film concerns the ongoing struggle against breast cancer, focused through "Jump for the Cause," a group of women skydivers who perform mass dives for money. In 2009, 181 women from 31 countries joined in a jump to raise almost $1 million for breast cancer research. "Don't be a victim," says the group's instructor, "Be the hero." Just so, Gulcin Gilbert's film asserts that the best cure for breast cancer is prevention, a point underlined by researchers more than once here. "We live in a very toxic environment," says Dr. Lauren Swerdloff near the beginning of "And we are able to handle some toxicity. But the environment is probably getting more toxic, more rapidly, than most of us are able to handle it." To battle that trend, individuals need to watch out for themselves, rather than hoping that government agencies and corporations will come up with answers. The energy, drive, and earnestness of the women skydivers seems a model of pressing ahead in the face of disappointment and difficulty.

Carpet Racers follows a group of professional competitive road course racers, that is, racers who drive remote control cars. The racers compete but also share a mutual respect and sense of camaraderie: they know other people don't understand their commitment, the time and money they spend on their passion. And they're not so sure they want to be documented, either. At first, says filmmaker Jay Thames, he felt like an outsider ("They didn’t seem to be speaking a language I understood at all") and then a "home-wrecker," owing to his subjects' resistance ("You can't just follow us everywhere," says one woman, at which point he can only say, "That's what a documentarian does, Karen"). Eventually, he's accepted well enough that he begins to try racing himself; his progress is slow but his enthusiasm earns him some trust among his film subjects.

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