India-based documentary on menstruation wins Oscar

Period. End of Sentence, set in India, won the Oscar in the Best Documentary Short Subject category at the Feb. 24, 2019 Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo: Twitter of producer Guneet Monga)

A documentary film about menstruation and the life of young girls and women in India, won the Oscar at the Academy Awards Feb. 24.

“Period. End of Sentence” a 26-minute film, won in the Best Documentary Short Subject category. It was among five documentaries nominated for an Oscar. Twenty five year old Rayka Zehtabchi, an Iranian-American,  was shocked when the documentary short she directed was announced as the winner. Zehtabchi recently graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Rushing up to the stage with a number of others involved in the making of the documentary, Zehtabchi breathlessly thanked the Academy. “Thank you for giving me the platform,” she said, adding, “I’m not crying because I’m on my period. I can’t believe a movie about menstruation just won an Oscar!”

The film was co-produced by Indian film-maker Guneet Monga and her company Sikhya Entertainment. Sikhya Entertaiment has been involved in the making of other award-winning films like “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan.”

“WE WON!!! To every girl on this earth… know that you are a goddess… if heavens are listening… look MA we put @sikhya on the map” She was also present at the Academy Awards.

According to the six college sophomores who attended the Oscars with 6 women from Hapur, were to attend the Oscars. Many of them came onstage.

The film was made in Hapur village, 60 kilometers from Delhi, and featured the misconceptions about menstruation. It also featured the sanitary pad making machine developed by the now famous “Padman” Arunachalam Muruganantham, which allowed women to make their own pads and sell them.

The women of Hapur began making the pads seven years ago with the help of high school students from California, who raised the seed money and named their initiative “The Pad Project.” Action for India was also involved with the village project, helping put the pad making machine in the village.

The women of Hapur named their brand of the pad “Fly” because of the freedom it afforded them as it allowed them “to soar,” says the IMDB description about the film.

The movement for ‘menstrual equity’ has become a global campaign. In the U.S., this has taken the form of making access to sanitary products more widespread, and one Indian-American State Representative, Niraj Antani, R-Ohio, has made ending sales tax on mentrual products, one of his causes. In India, the onset of the period leads leads sometimes to girls dropping out of school, and also having to adhere to traditions preventing them from participated in religious rituals at that time of the month.



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