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  • Writer's pictureRachael Yahne

The Period Documentary *Everyone* Needs To Watch

Grab your sister, your best friend, your mom, and your partner. Periodical, the period documentary, is about to change your life.

period documentary

Months ago, I was invited to watch the premier of Periodical, the period documentary, in an intimate theater in Los Angeles. I then searched long and hard for an editor who would publish a story on the film, to no avail. This was yet more proof, in my mind, of the director’s argument within the film: conversations and awareness around women’s period needs to be talked about more, yet there are so few people willing to do so. Today, I’m self-publishing this review to change that.


Somewhat softly, but with unmistakable and long-needed power, director Lina Plioplyte is starting a revolution…She’s doing so with her film: Periodical. Such was the case in a small, womb-like private theater where she sat with the audience post-premiere; exactly the kind of safe and sacred space for such a dialogue about the wrongfully tabooed subject of the menstrual cycle.

The film opens to perceptions and understandings of the menstrual period from all ages and walks of life. From confusion to delight, resentment to indifference, we see a myriad of assessments of the most natural - and most shunned - part of a woman’s life. In doing so, Plioplyte makes immediately clear just how far we have to go in the conversation toward so much more than social equality for women and their periods. 

Plioplyte takes viewers on a sometimes humorous, sometimes tear-inducing, but always sobering exploration of how the menstrual cycle affects more than our bodies. From paying taxes on it (if you didn’t know you are, all the more reason to see the film) to period product safety, school education implementation, and ancient tribal practices, no stone is left unturned. Actress Naomi Watts is one of many major figures to make an appearance and share her own unique experience of maturation and menopause, sparking yet another conversation on women's health that too many admit to knowing too little about.

It’s not only the educational elements (do you know how to sync your schedule to your cycle?), nor the egregious laws that still govern our bodies (if you’ve got a soft spot for young female crusaders, you will not be disappointed) that makes the movie a must-watch. Strewn throughout are tender, real moments of camaraderie not only between women but between a woman and her own cycle. Plioplyte also memorably offers an intimate look inside a Native American tribe that ceremonializes the start of a woman’s period and continues to do so throughout her lifetime. While respectfully keeping the rituals private, the dialogue gives a tender and empowering glimpse into a different way of viewing a woman’s moon cycle: that of appreciation, joy, and self-expression. Quite the opposite of the ‘dirty’, ‘cursed’, and ‘crazy-making’ PMS narrative we're sold, instead, we see the possibility of celebrating the cycle as a time of both death and renewal and heightened intuition. As an outspoken advocate for encouraging women to treat their cycles with reverie and respect, this enlightening look into the cycle as a ceremony is particularly moving.

Rather than being prescriptive, Periodical offers entry points for curiosity as to why/how/when the menstrual cycle affects us in ways we might not know, resources for further education, ways to get involved with changing the laws that affect our bodies, and a myriad of other topics. In essence, there is something to glean for all ages. All the while, the film is endearing, unforgettable, and, like the menstrual cycle itself, a shedding of old and built-up energies that our minds, bodies, and souls no longer need. And just like our periods, its central message of further opening our eyes to the wonders of women’s bodies is nothing to be laughed off or shoved aside.

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