MONTREAL - The pink ribbon has long been synonymous with the fight against breast cancer.

A new NFB documentary is generating a great deal of debate, as Montreal-based director Lea Pool looks at the businesses behind the pink ribbon and shows how some of them use the cause as a marketing gimmick to boost sales.

"At one point I decided that the editorial point of view would be the ‘Inc.' What is the commercialization of the pink ribbon? How do companies use this ribbon to make profit," asked Pool, director of Pink Ribbons Inc.

A staunch supporter of pink ribbon events, Pool took a look at the business side of the costly research into breast cancer.

"These events that raise money are great, but you need to ask the questions: Where is this money going? Why are there so many products in October?" Pool's documentary found uneasy answers to those questions.

"I was really surprised to see how a little ribbon could hide so many secrets and so many lies. I think we need to reveal those lies," said Pool. "The companies that, on the one hand, make anti-cancer drugs, and on the other hand make pesticides are not OK."

The documentary opened to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, but to millions of women around the world breast cancer is not an abstract concept. It's a reality.

"I look at it as quite a ride, a rollercoaster ride, emotionally as well—and yes, it's a battle," said Anna Copobianco, a three-time cancer survivor.

Copobianco's outlook on the pink ribbon is a positive one.

"I think it's a celebration of life, all that sea of pink, actually the first time I did the walk and saw all those pink t-shirts, it's was sort of like: these women are all survivors?"

Nathalie Le Prohon, executive director of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, heard of Pool's documentary and while she was supportive, she stressed that corporations do not tell her Foundation where to spend money.

"I think she makes good points, a few good points, in particular related to where the money goes related to the breast cancer cause," said Le Prohon.

The documentary will open in theatres Feb. 3, 2012.