I remember my first period and the way it made me feel like it was yesterday – that awkward mixture of nervousness and curiosity. But most importantly, it was something I took care of myself. My mother bought me sanitary towels and told me that growing up just wasn’t easy. All the while, I had no idea what was actually happening to my body. We didn’t get a sexual education in elementary school (being the only girl in my class, I guess the teacher was “considerate” enough to spare me the “embarrassment”). Later, in secondary school, the topic prompted more jokes than clarifying discussion. Pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms such as abdominal cramps or migraines were good reasons to sit out the dreaded gym class rather than partake. Nobody was asking questions and so I didn’t either. Our first periods were something we just sat out rather than dealing with them.
The first period: Short Film Bloody Hell celebrates a taboo topic
Director Katharina Hingst gets right to the heart of the topic with her short film Bloody Hell. Hingst manages to capture the moment of her main character’s first period in a dreamy and explicit manner. Her protagonist Camilla awakes on her 16th birthday to find that something has changed. Intuitively, she’s aware that she’s coming close to her first menstrual cycle. But instead of opting for the usual means, Camilla does things differently. Being confident and curious, she decides to create a unique space to await the event. Hingst’s admiration for director Sofia Coppola is instantly evident. Bloody Hell at times appears to draw from some of the aesthetics and dramaturgy of films such as The Virgin’s Suicide by the US director. Indeed, much like Coppola’s The Virgin’s Suicide, Hingst’s short film also explores the topic of the female coming-of-age.
Bloody Hell – a film about the emotional rollercoaster of the first period
Even if the film’s cinematography appears almost flowery and sparkly, the topic of the first period and its associated emotional and physical symptoms are approached in a serious manner. The film provides a realistic portrayal of the coming-of-age of a young woman, all the while celebrating menstruation as mother nature’s gift. Camille is not only intuitively aware of the message her body may be trying to send her, but in one scene also summons nature through a type of ritual, exploring spirituality and the sensation of being at one with her body. We highly recommend Bloody Hell and believe it should be part of every school’s syllabus to show girls and boys alike that the first period is a formative and pervasive event. The short film Bloody Hell manages to remind us that the first period is inherently female and part of female nature like little else.
You can watch the short film here.