Menstruation is in vogue. Also in places you probably wouldn’t expect it, like the cinema. Surprising? Actually, it isn’t. The worldwide menstrual taboo – or rather: the ever-growing worldwide menstrual equity movement – literally provides movie directors with Oscar-winning stories.
Period. End of Sentence.
In 2019, Period. End of Sentence. by the Iranian-American film director Rayka Zehtabchi won an Oscar for the best documentary short film. The movie doesn’t just reveal the influence of menstrual poverty on the lives of women and girls in an Indian village, it also shows the difference education, empowerment and entrepreneurial spirit can make. When a sanitary pad machine is installed in the village, the enterprising women take charge and begin manufacturing their own sanitary pads.
Also nominated during this 91st Academy Awards ceremony in 2019: Padman. This menstrual movie is based on the life of Indian entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, aka menstrual man. Padman – produced by the Indian Twinkle Khanna, with her husband and Bollywood movie star Akshay Kumar playing the lead role – didn’t win a gold-plated statue. But still: two movies about menstruation during a single Academy Awards ceremony. And both films were also on Netflix. Can menstruation get any more mainstream?
You’ve probably guessed it by now: there’s a new menstrual movie in town. Pandora’s Box – Lifting the lid on menstruation (by director Rebecca Snow) focuses on the worldwide menstrual equity movement. It takes the viewer to Kenya, Uganda, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Women from everywhere in the world, from developing countries to American prisons and European schools, tell their stories. What they have in common? All of them have trouble managing their menstruation with dignity.
Of course the movie also features activists, policy-makers, lawyers and other supporters of the menstrual equity movement. They’re all fighting for gender equality, for example by protesting against the tampon tax that’s being banned in more and more places. Currently there are still 32 states in the US that impose this tax, can be read on the website of Pandora’s Box. The 75-minute Canadian documentary made its premiere last December, at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Although it didn’t win an award there, it did get an Honorable Mention. Curious? Watch the trailer here.
It doesn’t focus on menstruation, but it’s definitely worth watching. The movie Woman, by directors Anastasia Mikova and Yann Arthus-Bertrand. A portrait of 2,000 completely different women – ranging from heads of state and beauty queens to bus drivers – from 50 different countries. These women talk about motherhood, marriage, education, economic independence, sexuality, menstruation, abortion, local customs, etc., etc. Watch the French trailer here.