A film on menstruation, set in rural India, titled “Period. End of Sentence,” has won the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards hosted on February 24.
Award-winning filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi has directed the short film, which has been co-produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment.
The film came into being as a part of The Pad Project, started by students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher, Melissa Berton.
“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film on menstruation won an Oscar,” Zehtabchi said in her acceptance speech.
Dedicating the award to her school, Berton said the project was born because her students in LA and people in India wanted to make a human rights difference .
“I share this award with the Feminist Majority Foundation, the entire team and cast. I share this with the teachers and students around the worlds – a period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education,” she said.
The documentary feature is set in Hapur village outside Delhi, where women lead a quiet revolution as they fight against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation.
For generations, these women did not have access to sanitary pads, which lead to health issues and girls dropping out from schools.
When a sanitary pad vending machine is installed in the village, the women learn to manufacture and market their own pads, empowering their community. They name their brand FLY.
Monga said the film was a shout out to girl power.
“Periods are normal and in no way do they stops us from achieving anything. This has been more than 10 years of work of Action India run by Gauri Chaudhary on educating reproductive rights on the ground in many villages. Feminist Majority Movement and Girls learn International have been pushing this cause in US.
“Every girl in India or anywhere around the world needs to know this and hear this loud and clear. Period is an end of a sentence but not a girl’s education… Here is to more girl power… I really want every girl to know that each one of them is a goddess,” the producer said in a statement.
Other documentary shorts nominated in the category were “Black Sheep”, “End Game”, “Lifeboat” and “A Night at the Garden”.
There has been an increased focus on period hygiene in India, which was also the subject of a mainstream Bollywood movie Padman, starring Akshay Kumar in the lead role in a biopic on Arunachalam Muruganantham, who started making low cost pads in his village despite being ostracised.
India’s moment at the Oscars comes exactly a decade after A R Rahman and sound engineer Resul Pookutty won the Academy awards for “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2009.Posted in International