As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lifetime is preparing to release its groundbreaking film “Five,” which is comprised of five short films exploring the impact of breast cancer on people’s lives. [Scroll down to watch the promo.]
As reported last summer, Alicia Keys directs one of the shorts, titled “Lili,” with Rosario Dawson in the title role as a woman whose diagnosis affects her relationships with her sister, played by Tracee Ellis Ross, and mother, played by Jenifer Lewis.
Lili, a fiercely independent, career-minded woman, recruits her sister to help break her bad news to their hard-nosed mother. As they work through their past issues, Lili’s mother and sister ultimately become her strongest allies when she needs them the most.
“When the idea of five short films about breast cancer was first introduced me, I got really excited for a chance to do something that hasn’t been done, for a chance to do a film in short films, to tell a story that way, to put people through an emotional event that way,” said “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman, an executive producer on the project along with Jennifer Aniston.
The movie, premiering Monday (Oct. 10) at 9 p.m., deals with a serious subject matter, but the storytelling is anything but somber and morose. In fact, Kauffman insisted that the stories be injected with huge doses of humor.
“I think we all do this. When we are in the most extraordinary circumstances, we react in one of two ways. Either we completely freak out or we go towards humor. I tend to go towards humor,” she said. “That’s my upbringing. It’s what I know. And it wasn’t like this is irreverent. It’s not nipple jokes. But it’s about women, and in some cases, their family members, their partners, in extraordinary circumstances, and when you raise the stakes enough, it can be funny.
In the case of “Lili,” Kauffman explains: “It gets funny when a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer still has to deal with her mother. It can be funny. So the idea was that the humor, it’s not slapstick. People aren’t falling down and running into walls, and they’re not telling jokes, but it’s character humor and humor out of this very intense time in one’s life.”
The other four shorts were directed by Aniston (“Mia”), Demi Moore (“Charlotte”), Penelope Spheeris(“Cheyanne”) and Patty Jenkins (“Pearl”).
Pearl, an oncologist played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, is the one character who appears in all five of the shorts – as the doctor treating patients in the first four, and in the final short as a breast cancer patient herself.
In the bonus audio below, Tripplehorn reveals how the subject matter motivated her to schedule her own mammogram – which ended up coming at the expense of Alicia Keys’ first table read. Also heard in the clip, actress Patricia Clarkson, who plays the title role in “Mia.”