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Explained: How India-based film on menstruation caught world’s eye and took home an Oscar

Oscar for 'Period. End of a Sentence.': A 25-minute documentary set in Uttar Pradesh's Hapur district won an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards on Monday.

, Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 25, 2019 2:03:53 pm
period indian documentary wins oscar award Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton accept the Best Documentary Short Subject award for “Period. End Of Sentence.” (Reuters Photo: Mike Blake)

A 25-minute documentary set in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district won an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards on Monday. Period. End of a Sentence., directed by the Iranian-American director Rayka Zehtabchi, won the award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). The other nominations in the category were Black Sheep, End Game, Lifeboat and A Night at the Garden.

In her acceptance speech, Zehtabchi said: “I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film on menstruation won an Oscar.” The documentary was produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and crowdfunded by students from Los Angeles along with their teacher Melissa Berton.

The documentary highlights the taboo around menstruation in India, due to which access to sanitary and hygienic products are difficult to come by. It talks about the hesitation in talking about menstruation and how several young women faced health issues and were even forced to drop out of school due to this.

Review: Period. End of Sentence. – A small step in the right direction

When a vending machine for sanitary pads is set up in Hapur district, the women begin manufacturing and marketing their own products under the brand FLY.

As the title suggests, a period must only end a sentence and not one’s education, liberty and independence. Through the documentary, the director attempts to make menstruation a taboo-free subject; the film does the job well as we can see the changes being made at the grass root level.

Incidentally, this win comes a decade after Slumdog Millionaire won an Oscar in 2009.

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