This was how the Oscar-winning "Period. End of Sentence" got to be made: Ten teenaged girls from Oakwood School, North Hollywood, had read that girls in rural Indian schools drop out because of periods. They raised $3,000 to donate a pad-making machine, with the help of GLI (Girls Learn International), an NGO in Los Angeles, and Action India, Delhi. Later, they decided to make a short film on the effort, to spread the message further.
The documentary shows how in Kathi Khera village in Uttar Pradesh, local women, deprived of affordable pads, don’t just find steady income and empowerment by making their own brand called Fly but also end up getting access to the feminine hygiene product themselves. In a press note, co-producer of the documentary, Guneet Monga, thanked the Academy in recognising the efforts of the young girls from Oakwood as well as those in Kathi Khera.
She also acknowledged the decade-long work of Action India, run by Gauri Chaudhary, on spreading awareness about reproductive rights. “I am honoured and absolutely humbled to partner with Melissa [Berton] and Rayka [Zehtabchi] in making our short documentary happen. Mandakini Kakar from Sikhya was on the floor working with the film and is the voice of the film too. And thank you Stacey Sher and Lisa Taback for supporting this massive dream. And thank you Netflix for truly putting us on the map,” she said.
She added that period is an end of a sentence but not a girl’s education. “Here is to more girl power... I really want every girl to know that each one of them is a goddess… Now that we have an Oscar, let us go change the world,” she said.
This is the second film set in India, after Megan Mylan’s Smile Pinki (2008), to have won the best documentary short Oscar. Mylan’s documentary was also set in U.P. — Rampur Dahaba village in Mirzapur, near Varanasi. Monga herself has previously worked on another Oscar contender Kavi, which was a 2010 nominee in the live action short film category but couldn’t take the trophy home. Monga is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences herself; she was among the 20 Indians invited to join last year.