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India-based and inspired ‘Period. End of Sentence’ wins an Oscar

by Mignonne D’souza

25-February-2019

Co-produced by Guneet Monga, the film won Best Documentary Short for creating the meaningful dialogue that ‘a period should end a sentence and not a girl’s education’.

On February 25, a film about menstruation made history at the 91st Academy Awards. Directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi, ‘Period. End of Sentence’ is set in the village of Hapur, outside of Delhi, India, where women strive to make hygiene supplies easily available with a sanitary pad-making machine. Zehtabchi received the award alongside producer Melissa Berton. Guneet Monga, famed for the highest grossing international film ‘The Lunchbox’, and Mandakini Kakar of Sikhya Entertainment are the Indian co-producers on the film. It competed with four other titles — 'Black Sheep', 'End Game', 'Lifeboat', 'A Night At The Garden' — in the documentary short subject category.


Melissa Berton and Rayka Zehtabchi at the Oscars ceremony

Sprouting from an idea in a classroom at Oakwood School, Los Angeles, the film was originally created as a marketing tool for the nonprofit Pad Project, a movement to fight the stigmatized narrative around periods. Berton, the school’s English teacher, motivated students to advocate for women and girls to normalise menstruation. They raised money to donate one pad machine to a village and partnered with the NGO Action India, which educates villages on reproductive rights. The film documents the effects of this one machine on the lives of girls and women in rural India. Seven executive producers on the project are still in grad school and several associate producers in high school. Garett Schiffer, a parent of one of the students is also an executive producer on the project. The Feminist Majority Movement and Girls Learn International have been pushing this cause in the US.

'Period. End of Sentence' in its 26-minute narrative represents an entire community of repressed women, focusing on a young girl Sneha and her dreams of becoming a police officer. Another girl discusses the taboo of menstruation, the importance of education, and how she had to drop out of school when she got her period. Sneha made it to the award ceremony, all the way from Uttar Pradesh, India, along with 10 American students who worked on the film. 

The documentary has made waves on the film festival circuit and received awards galore, leading to its acquisition as a Netflix Original. The cherry on the cake is now its big win at the 2019 Oscars, a defining moment for women all over the world creating meaningful dialogue around menstruation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sneha and Mandakini Kakar on the red carpet