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San Diego native wins Oscar for documentary short

91st Annual Academy Awards - Show
91st Annual Academy Awards - Show
Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 01:41:45-05

LOS ANGELES (KGTV) -- A San Diego native won an Oscar Sunday night for her work on the documentary short “Period. End of Sentence.”

Inside a home in Del Cerro, family members cheered as they watched Melissa Berton take to the stage to accept the Academy Award.

Before winning the award, Berton spoke about making the film. "It's been a profound experience from start to finish," said Melissa Berton.

The journey for Patrick Henry High graduate and English teacher Melissa Berton began in 2013.

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She advised a group of students at her North Hollywood school, selected as United Nation delegates to advocate for women and girls, where they learned about the taboo nature of menstruation in parts of India.

They formed a nonprofit called the Pad Project, in hopes of getting a machine to create biodegradable pads to a rural village in India. Through a Kickstarter campaign and bake sales, Berton and her students raised more than $50,000 for the machine - and a film.

"We never thought it would be an Oscar-nominated film, but the idea was always, if we could just make an educational film to raise awareness about this issue then that would be the jewel of the nonprofit," said Berton, who is the film's Executive Producer.

The film has received some Hollywood backing. Actor Jack Black, Berton's classmate at UCLA, was among its earliest donors. Other actors including Sarah Paulson and Kiefer Sutherland has supported the film on social media.