Whistler Film Festival interview: Rebecca Snow on PANDORA’S BOX: LIFTING THE LID ON MEMSTRUATION

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

In Pandora’s Box, filmmaker Rebecca Snow deals with a central issue in women’s struggle for gender equality by revealing how for generations women have been shamed, ostracized, and silenced, because they menstruate. Pandora’s Box unmasks the global pandemic of menstrual inequity and period poverty. From Maasai villages, to Mumbai and on to London, Snow introduces young women who are forced to stay home from school, or even drop out, merely because they don’t have access to menstrual supplies. We meet formerly incarcerated women in the U.S. prison system who talk about their struggles to menstruate safely while deprived of basic human hygiene. One of them asks: “Isn’t the ability to menstruate with dignity a basic human right?” The 75-minute documentary captures the commentary of heroes, innovators, activists and thought leaders. Pandora’s Box is among the female-directed films nominated for an AWFJ EDA Award at Whistler Film Festival 2019. Her insightful comments on the making and meaning of Pandora’s Box are fascinating.

Jennifer Merin: What your film is about — both in story and theme?

Rebecca Snow Pandora’s Box is an eye-opening film that exposes the taboos, stigmas, inequities and injustices around menstruation. We give voice to some of the people most effected by lack of access to menstural supplies, and helps raise the voices of some of the people trying to break the stigma around menstruation and address some of the inequities for people who menstruate.

Merin: How and why did you encounter and commit to the subject/theme of your film and to the main characters in it?

Snow: I was approached to direct this for Diva International (Makers of the Diva Cup) who wanted to raise awareness of the issues around period poverty and menstrual inequity. One of the main characters in the film – Jennifer Weiss Wolf – has written the definitive book on menstrual equity called ‘Periods Gone Public’, so she was a great voice to feature. We reached out to many organizations working all over the world on menstrual hygiene and menstrual access, like Femme International and Days for Girls, and through them found some of the characters in the film.

Merin: What did you learn about the subject/theme from making the film?

Snow: I am horrified by how little I had really considered issues of period poverty and the privilege of having access to menstrual supplies. And in turn as I dug deeper, and looked at the way menstruation has been shunned and shamed globally for millennia (because its a women’s ‘issue’), and how insane it is that menstrual products are taxed as ‘luxury items’ in most of the world. Don’t get me started……There is a great article by Gloria Steinem – If Men Could Menstruate – I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get fired up about this!

Merin: What did you learn about filmmaking from making the film?

Snow: That you can never have too much b-roll!

Merin: What were your biggest challenges in making the film?

Snow: The vastness of the subject matter was the biggest challenge in making this film. I decided early on that I definitely wanted to focus on the issue globally, rather than just in developing countries. I think it is important to understand that menstrual inequity and period poverty is everywhere. So we filmed on 4 continents; Sub-saharan Africa, the UK, the US and India. Working out how to weave the complex issues, the geography and the characters into one cohesive film was a challenge. We ended up shooting much more than we needed. We had tons of incredible interviews, but I wanted to focus in on certain people and spend time with them, make them characters rather than just ‘talking heads’ in the film. For me the edit is always the biggest challenge (and the most creative part) of film making, and in the case of this film that was certainly true.

Merin: Do you think that being female gave you a distinct perspective and/or way of handling the filmmaking process?

Snow: I think the fact that I am a woman and I bleed had an inevitable impact on how I approached this subject matter and the interviews. The producers (both female) and I were also determined to hire female crew where possible. We had great female DPs and sound recordists, composer, editor etc.

Merin: What are your plans for the future?

Snow: I just finished another feature doc, Cheating Hitler: Surviving the Holocaust which broadcast on History and Global in Canada a few weeks ago. I am also working on a long-term feature documentary following an LGBT family called The Loves. I have been filming it for four years so far, and plan to for the next decade or so. So its a longitudinal doc. Kind of like a real-life Boyhood.

ABOUT REBECCA SNOW: Rebecca Snow is an award-winning writer and director specializing in history and social issue documentaries. In 2018 she won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Direction in a Documentary Program for her documentary Real Vikings: Viking Women. Born in London England, Rebecca began her filmmaking career at the BBC, working in the history and arts documentary units. Since then she has worked in both Los Angeles and Toronto. Her broadcast writing/directing credits include NBC’s Emmy-nominated series Who Do You Think You Are?, CBC’s Nature of Things, and for History Channel; the feature-length documentary Cheating Hitler: Surviving the Holocaust, and the documentary series Museum Secrets, Perfect Storms, and Mummies Alive. In 2018 she created the online short documentary series The Better Is Possible Project. A number of the films played festivals worldwide. Pandora’s Box is her second feature-length documentary. She is a member of the global female film collective, Film Fatales.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×
explore: | | | | | |