Ironbound films’ latest endeavor is the 15-minute short film documentary subject called ‘Detected’ narrated by actress Melanie Griffith, about the story of technology entrepreneur Rob Royea. The film is directed by Daniel Miller, Jeremy Newberger and Seth Kramer. The movie scrutinizes and examines how to advance detection of breast cancer in women. 1 in every 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and the disease kills half a million women each year. With horrifying statistics such as these, Rob Royea is determined to solve the problem with a miraculous new innovation; a bra that instantaneously communicates signs of cancer.
The film opens up with a discussion surrounding dense tissue and how often times, it makes it incredibly difficult for oncologists to detect cancer cells being present. Royea describes it as a “snowflake in a snowstorm”.
The film does a great job of explaining to the viewer first how far spread breast cancer is both domestically and internationally and goes into detail about how the technology is less intrusive than that of a typical mammogram, which for any woman reading this that has experienced having one, it’s not an exam any of us look forward to getting. The iTBra as it’s referred to in the film; is like a computer device that acts as an adhesive to the breast tissue and can detect instantly when cancer cells are present.
Royea does his due diligence by traveling internationally to Asia in countries like Singapore, that has a high rate of breast cancer among women who live there. Royea in the film is seeking to secure investors to help fund more prototypes for his new technology which will cost 7 million dollars to make just a few hundred of them.
One of the things that stuck out to me which in my opinion, I thought was severely disappointing was out of all of the women being tested and seeking medical care; there were no Black women present in the film. According to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Black women tend to be diagnosed at a younger age than white women and the median age at diagnosis for black women is 59, compared to 63 for white women. Due to many variables, one is lack of proper medical care and health care prevention, Black women out of all ethnicities of women are likely to have triple negative tumors which are aggressive. To have African-American women erased from the film as a viewer indicates to me, that the prototypes used in Royea’s tech being developed are only afforded to white and Asian women.
The film has great pacing, with an incredibly informative subject matter, but fails miserably on its intersectional representation of women breast cancer patients.
I’m not going to give it a rotten rating here because although the erasure of Black women was problematic, the subject matter was intriguing and the film did a great job of presenting its case.
The film ends on an ambiguous note and we don’t know what happens next with the iTBra and/or the patients it’s being tested on, but I’m sure this isn’t the last of this technology that we will hear about. Let’s at least hope so.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online community for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She's the primary film critic for BGN and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critic Association