A group of Kiwi women exhibit inspirational attitudes in the face of cancer in this gentle and affecting local documentary.
The Pink Dragons are an Auckland-based dragon-boating team comprised entirely of breast cancer patients. It's existed for more than 10 years, but as the film begins, the team is in a rebuilding year. For obvious reasons, they sometimes lose members, and in the previous year's competition they competed with a mixed boat only partially made up of breast cancer survivors.
For the latest season, they want a full breast cancer boat, so that involves bringing in several new recruits alongside established veterans. The film chronicles the attempts of their head coach Sooupu Perese to get the team into shape, and we join them for various regattas throughout the season.
Director Lisa Burd (who made 2018's Let's Talk About Sex) also hones in on various individual members of the team who speak eloquently about how being a member of the Pink Dragons has helped them stare down the challenges of breast cancer.
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The film isn't super glossy, but it more than makes up for its lack of slick production values with the indefatigable positions of its subjects, who all display an empowering sense of positivity mixed with singular Kiwi humour and humility. There is a palpable sense of camaraderie among the women linked by sharing the burden of a major health issue that still remains under recognised - "the shadow in the back of your head" as one puts it.
From younger member Liz Horne to "Camp Mother" Annabelle Waetford, they all simply get on with it. Although they may not win every race (there are other breast cancer teams in the competition), nothing resembles defeatism here, and you'll leave the theatre invigorated by their irrepressibility.
Director: Lisa Burd
Running time: 95 minutes
Rating: PG (Offensive language)
Verdict: The power of resilience personified on screen.