Period. End of Sentence has achieved the feat by winning the Oscar for the Best Documentary in the Short Subject Category at the 91st Academy Awards on February 25. A 25-minute documentary shot in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district, based on the stigmas around menstruation, made India proud and pin us back on the wall of Academy Award winners.
Interestingly, 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.
Women who burst the stigma
Directed by 25-year-old Iranian-American director Rayka Zehtabchi, the film is a take on the taboos around menstruation that still exist in India’s hinterlands. It portrays the sheer obliviousness of the women about sanitary hygiene during menstruation, leading to their reluctance to use products such as sanitary pads.
In her acceptance speech, Zehtabchi said:
Rayka Zehtabchi on her #Oscars win: "I'm not crying because I'm on my period or anything." https://t.co/KIhNTMyCqv pic.twitter.com/0vl6oZQObb
— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019
The documentary was produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and crowdfunded by The Pad Project – an organization established by an inspired group of students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher, Melissa Berton.
Monga, whose Sikhya Entertainment has also backed films like The Lunchbox, Masaan, and Gangs of Wasseypur, tweeted-
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 ❤️
— Guneet Monga (@guneetm) February 25, 2019
Shot mostly on hand-held cameras and adopting a conversational narrative, the film juxtaposes people’s ignorance of the biological phenomena and the women’s drive to alleviate the stigma, even though hesitantly, when a pad-making machine is set up in the village.
A social experiment transcends into a revolution when women – who had never even heard of sanitary napkins – are not only apprised of its benefits but start producing them in bulk and selling them at minimal prices, salvaging the opportunity of self-empowerment.
Period. End of Sentence was among four other documentary shorts that were nominated in the category – Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat, and A Night at the Garden.