A ‘period’ movie in India and the US Oscars

A ‘period’ movie in India and the US Oscars


Delighting the global fraternity of women’s health social workers and activists, this year’s Oscar award for a documentary went to Period. End of Sentence, a 25-minute short film. Produced by Melissa Berton and Netflix, directed by a US director Rayka Zehtabchi, and shot on location in India, the making of the film has been a collaborative effort between a team of women, including film makers from US and Executive Producer from India Guneet Monga of Sikhya Entertainment, along with ground help from a not-for-profit Action India, and most amazingly the girl students and alumni of Oakwood School, Los Angeles, where the journey all began.

Seven years ago, the English teacher at Oakwood, Melissa Berton, at a UN session learnt about the plight of many schoolgirls in developing countries forced to drop out of school once their periods begin. Taking this as an idea under the Oakwood’s Girls Learn International Club (GLI), they soon learnt of the problem being manifold and the key factor being lack of access to affordable sanitary napkins. They decided to raise funds to help install an inexpensive pad-making machine in India, innovated by the now famous Indian social-entrepreneur engineer Arunachalam Muruganatham, also from India.

The initial target of $10,000 for installing the machine in a village in India and raw materials for an year’s production soon increased by an additional $35,000 to include funds for a film to raise awareness on the topic. At the time this was a daunting task for the students who only had experience of raising funds to a few hundred dollars so far.

They began to search for a way and finally chose the crowd funding option and soon started a page called the Pad Project Kickstarter. The setting up and getting approval of the page itself was an eye opener with all of its compliances for approval. Although it was difficult to take off initially, within days of its launching they stood fully funded.

The rest, as they say, is history. Twelve girl students, their English teacher, and the screenwriter Garrett Schiff, (also an alumnus), with support from the Directors of Experiential Learning and Outreach programs of the Oakwood School,and the ground help in India, are all making a difference to the world via this unique collaboration.

As Melissa Berton very appropriately ended her acceptance speech at the Oscars this year: “A period should end a sentence – not a girl’s education.”