Period. End of Sentence. is the little film that did, and it wouldn’t have come about without several high school girls, a high school English teacher and a Hollywood publicist who is one of the four lead producers on the film, which was just nominated for an Oscar this morning in the Best Documentary Short category.
The film’s director, Rayka Zehtabchi, was the only female to be nominated in the category. The 25-year-old graduated from USC film school just two years ago.
Six of the high school girls are executive producers. “When I graduated, one of our producers who is one of the dads of one of six high school girls [exec producer Ruby Schiff] told me about this,” Zehtabchi said today after the noms were announced. “The whole project started because of Melissa Berton who is an English teacher at Oakwood School in Los Angeles. She rounded up her students — those six girls — after learning about this issue about women and girls dropping out of school worldwide because of menstruation. They decided that they wanted to purchase a machine that creates low-cost sanitary pads to install in a village in India where the taboo around menstruation is one of the worst in the world.”
Claire Sliney is one of those six exec producers — she’s the daughter of Hollywood publicist Lisa Taback.
Enter Kickstarter. Everyone got together and launched the online crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to purchase the machine and then spread awareness around the issue with a documentary film. “The entire film took about two years to make,” said Zehtabchi. And talk about women helping women: “What we’re most proud of is that now there is a group of determined women in a small village in rural India who are stilling working to change the culture one pad at a time.”
The director wanted to give a particular shout-out today to Sam Davis, who was not only the films cinematographer and editor but also sound designer and producer.