With this year’s oscars came a list of movies that I need to watch. I reviewed the book Black Klansman last summer, and I intend to review the movie, which won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. However, the film that caught my attention was the winner of best short documentary: Period: End of Sentence.
Period: End of Sentence follows a group of women in rural India and the start of their business. In a part of the world in which menstruation is rarely, if ever, talked about, and menstruation products prohibitively expensive, these women learned to manufacture and sell their own low-cost biodegradable menstrual pads with help from The Pad Project. The Pad Project made the documentary, and there’s a promotion for it on their website. I did appreciate that the organization mostly stayed out of the documentary itself, only plugging their website during the credits. It didn’t feel like an self-promotion, though I suppose it ultimately was.
Period: End of Sentence shows the consequences of having inadequate access to menstrual products. While on their periods, these women often have to deal with constantly stained clothing, or possibly re-using cloth to try and control their blood, which can be unsanitary if they are not properly cleaned. Arunachalam Muruganantham invented a machine that allows for a basic, biodegradable menstrual pad to be quickly and easily manufactured. Period: End of Sentence follows what happens when one of his machines is installed in a rural Indian village. As a result, women are able to start their own business making and selling pads that the people around them can afford, and since their business is mostly women, it creates a more welcoming shopping environment. Also, the entrepreneurial women earned more money than they had working in the field, and for the first time some of them had money of their own.
It seemed like a lower-budget production but I don’t think that is something that counts against the project. The filmmakers seemed to lean into it and give the film a home movie feeling to it. I really felt like I got a window into these women’s lives with little to no additional commentary.
That being said, I really wish that there was more to the documentary. It’s only about twenty minutes long, and I think that it could have been a much deeper dive into this problem. I hope that after the attention that it gets following its Oscar win, that The Pad Project can make a feature-length documentary or at least a follow-up. Additionally, as most of the people featured were not speaking English, when I watched it their voices needed to be dubbed over. However, the dubbed voices didn’t match the closed captioning and that got annoying. It was pretty distracting. It wasn’t just a couple of words that were different, it was entire sentences that were completely different from what you’re hearing. I don’t know if it was some kind of miscommunication on Netflix’s part, but since the closed captioning is not embedded into the video, that’s a problem that can be fixed.
This is a short review of a very short documentary. I thought that Period: End of Sentence had a lot of potential and disappointed slightly in the dubbing and the amount of content. Regardless, I think it was a great short film that I think deserved its award. It’s an important film that discusses a vital issue that people don’t talk about nearly enough.