Ishwari Rajak has already changed one man’s perspective on menstruation. She’s hoping her documentary short, “The Invisible War on Blood,” will change many more. We think it will.
We’re showing “The Invisible War on Blood” at the film festival tomorrow night (with Ishwari in the audience!). We hope her work will make you reconsider your views on menstruation, too.
Q: How did you decide which aspects of the issue to address in your film?
A: My personal experience, both physiologically as well as culturally. I’m from Nepal, where the traditional practice of sequestering females into small huts (called chaupaudi) sometimes results in the deaths of young women. Now, since there’s a confluence of politics, marketing, taxation and difficulty for women to access feminine hygiene products, I chose to feature the interview with President Barack Obama and highlight the problems women and girls experience.
Q: What did you learn through the interviewing, filming and editing process?
A: Initially, I wanted to interview a person who had been through a hard time because they menstruate, which proved to be impossible. People would share their stories with me, and once it was time to shoot, they dropped out. So, I decided to change the format and interview an expert. Many emails and calls later, I finally had a willing participant.
At the start, I thought the filming and editing would be easier. I very happily used to share the timeline. Then my timeline changed to “soon,” but in reality, turned out to be “later.” However, despite exhaustion and anxiety, the entire thing has turned out to be an exciting adventure.
Interestingly, as we (editor Nathan Fisher) and I worked together, he shared how his perspective on menstruation changed. He said that he hears jokes and stereotyped conversations about “that time of the month” differently now. He is blown away by how normalized and insensitive we are toward others’ pain, this is in the context of menstruation. He expressed that he changed toward his fiancée (now his wife). He changed for the better, and it felt awesome that I could have such an impact on another person.
Q: What changes do you hope to effect through the screening of your film?
A: I think Nate’s example shows how I’d like to see just an individual – particularly a man – become cognizant of women’s experiences in this world and then actually change as a result of understanding menstruation, as well as the cultural customs, politics and conditioning involved with blood, women and life. I’d like to see a broad-scale breaking of the taboos and practices that harm or even kill girls, women and people who menstruate.
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