HuffPost got a sneak peek at “Pandora’s Box: Lifting the Lid on Menstruation” ahead of its U.S. premiere Thursday at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival via the video above. In the clip, British model and activist Kenny Jones recalls the physical and emotional anguish he experienced as a transgender teen when he began menstruating.
“I had my first period when I was about 15 [and] hated it,” Jones, now 25, says in the clip. “I could bind down my chest so I didn’t really have to worry about that. No one would be looking at my downstairs, but I couldn’t stop what my period was doing to me.”
These days, Jones uses his experience to speak out on behalf of “period poverty,” raising awareness about the barriers many people encounter in trying to access menstrual hygiene products. He’s one of several global activists featured in “Pandora’s Box,” which examines the history of cultural shame around menstruation as well as its political and environmental impact.
“Pandora’s Box” began as a passion project of executive producer Carinne Chambers-Saini, who is the CEO of Diva International, a Canadian menstrual care company. She approached the Toronto-based Snow with a proposal for a documentary about the menstrual movement in 2018.
Production took Snow to Africa, where she interviewed Kenyan girls who skip school while on their period because they can’t afford menstrual hygiene products. In the United States, she spoke with women who said they were barred from obtaining tampons and pads while they were incarcerated.
“My mission was to paint a global picture of the issue,” Snow, whose previous films include the History Channel’s “Cheating Hitler: Surviving the Holocaust,” told HuffPost. “I had never really considered the inequities and injustices experienced by so many people who are affected by this natural bodily function.”
With regard to Jones’ testimony in particular, she added, “I was surprised to hear from Kenny that he still experiences menstrual pain despite the hormones he is on. I doubt many people have stopped to think about the psychological effects of that for trans people.”
Thus far, critical reception to “Pandora’s Box,” which had its world premiere at Canada’s Whistler Film Festival last month, has been positive. Snow, however, would like audiences to be both “infuriated and inspired” by the film.
“This isn’t just something happening in developing countries,” she said. “We have a culture of silence around it [that’s] woven into the very fabric of our society. We made the film to get people talking!”