India wins big at the Oscars: Documentary on menstruation grabs an award

Wednesday 27th February 2019 01:35 EST

“I'm not crying because I'm on my period or anything. I can't believe a film on menstruation won an Oscar,” said Rayka Zehtabchi, an award-winning filmmaker who directed a short film set in rural India, titled 'Period. End of Sentence'. The movie won an Oscar over the weekend in the Documentary Short Subject category at the 91st Academy Awards. Other documentary shorts nominated in the category were 'Black Sheep', 'End Game', 'Lifeboat' and 'A Night at the Garden'.

The movie was co-produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga's Sikhya Entertainment. The film started off as a piece of 'The Pad Project', started by students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher Melissa Berton. Available on Netflix now, the documentary is set in Hapur village outside Delhi, and follows a group of women who club together in a beautiful act of sisterhood to create a new machine which allows them to create their own pads. It not only supplies sanitary products to the community but giving them a source of income. Whilst the machine makes the women in the community financially independent, it also helps to improve the community’s conversation around periods. The change in conversation proves to be crucial in a village where 23 per cent of girls leave school due to the culturally-based embarrassment they face around their periods.

The film brilliantly touches on 'The Pad Project'. The project’s mission comes with a powerful strap line, “When a girl gets her period in the United States, she may miss a class. When a girl gets her period in a developing country, she may never go to school again.” Berton dedicated the award to her school, saying the project was born because her students in LA and people in India. “I share this award with the Feminist Majority Foundation, the entire team and cast. I share this with the teachers and students around the worlds: A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education,” she said.

Monga spoke on the occasion, and said, “Thank you to the Academy for the highest honour and for recognising the efforts of the young girls from Oakwood school in LA to Kathikera in UP in helping us shatter the glass ceiling. Periods are normal and in no way do they stop us from achieving anything. This has been more than 10 years of work of Action India run by Gauri Chaudhary on educating reproductive rights on the ground in many villages. Feminist Majority Movement and Girls learn International have been pushing this cause in US.”

Rami Malek wins Oscar for 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

Actor Rami Malek has won yet again at the Academy Awards for his role as Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. He defeated a strong field, including Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in 'Vice' and Bradley Cooper as the droolworthy musician Jack Maine in 'A Star is Born'. Having previously picked up a string of awards for the role, including best actor from the Baftas and Screen Actors Guild, and Best Actor (Drama) at the Golden Globes, it was no surprise that he swung in the Oscar.

'Bohemian Rhapsody' is a biopic on Freddie Mercury of the British rock act Queen. The film has seen significant box-office success, despite a troubled production process. Born in Zanzibar to Parsi parents from India, Mercury's family moved to Middlesex, England, where he formed the iconic band in 1970. He has written numerous hits for Queen including 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Killer Queen', 'Somebody to Love', 'Don't Stop Me Now', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', and 'We are the Champions'.

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