Indian origin entry to the Oscars, documentary film Period. End of Sentence, a 25-minute long documentary just won best documentary at the 91st Academy Awards.
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About the deep-rooted stigma attached to menstruation in a rural village in India, the film walked away with the Best Documentary Short award. This stigma has obstructed girls and young women from staying in education, worshiping in temples and even having access to basic sanitary products. The film also shows some of the young men in the village reveal that they have no idea what the word ‘period’ means, with one saying that ‘menstruation’ might be “an illness that mostly affect girls”.
Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, the documentary is based on a village in Hapur, Delhi.
The protagonists of the documentary are the women who have aspirations that set them apart from rest of the crowd. The movie was actually inspired by the real-life story of social entrepreneur – Arunachalam Muruganantham (who also makes a cameo in the documentary).
Through the movie’s protagonists, Rayka has beautifully captured how, even within such a set-up, these women are willing to patiently fight for freedom, equality, and opportunities.
Contrary to this very message of the film, an unnamed male member of the judging panel at the Oscars said that he won’t give his vote to this film because even the thought of women getting periods grosses men out and they are in fact, ‘icky’ according to him.
“[I’m not going to vote for] Period. End of Sentence — it’s well done, but it’s about women getting their period, and I don’t think any man is voting for this film because it’s just icky for men,” he wrote in his anonymous Oscar ballot featuring his selections for the year’s awards ceremony.
The director even added that he has voted instead for ‘Lifeboat’, which he described as ‘a wonderful story of heroism that seems like a complex and dangerous movie to have made’.
On stage, the film’s producers joked that their emotions were ‘not because I’m on my period.’
‘I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!’ Rayka Zehtabchi joked upon accepting the award with fellow producer Melissa Berton.
You can watch the complete documentary on Netflix.