- LOS ANGELES
PRETTYBIRD has brought Academy Award winner Rayka Zehtabchi aboard its roster for commercials and branded content globally. This marks her first representation in the ad arena.
Zehtabchi gained mainstream media attention in February when her short documentary Period. End of a Sentence. won the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar, making her the first Iranian-American to do so in any category. The film chronicles the impact of The Period Project, which was responsible for installing a manual pad machine in the rural village of Kathikhera, located outside of Delhi, India. The machine not only manufactured affordable, biodegradable pads for the girls and women of the village, but it also produced a microeconomy, enabling young women to use the funds earned to further their education.
The Period Project originated from a teacher, Melissa Berton, and her students at the Oakwood School in North Hollywood, who were inspired to take action after learning about the taboo surrounding menstruation in developing countries.
In her Oscar acceptance speech, Zehtabchi thanked Netflix for giving a platform to Period. End of a Sentence. She concluded, “To [producer] Guneet Monga and the women of Kathikhera, know that you are empowering women all over the world to fight for menstrual equality.”
Period. End of a Sentence adds to a filmography which includes Zehtabchi’s directorial debut, Madaran. That piece follows an Iranian mother deliberating whether or not to spare the life of her son’s killer. It was filmed entirely in Farsi and helped distinguish Zehtabchi as a bold filmmaker driven by her passion for telling human interest stories, irrespective of their origin.
In 2018, Zehtabchi directed her first brand content piece for Netflix’s “What I Wish I Knew” campaign. The film captures a round table discussion among actors Lachlan Watson, Liv Hewson, Jacob Tobia, and Shiva Raichandani, who share their thoughts on self-identity and experiences of being non-binary in Hollywood/Bollywood, the media, and the world at large.
As Zehtabchi moves toward more ventures in branded content filmmaking, she maintains her commitment to impactful storytelling, combined with social activism, “Rather than just selling products, I’d like to sell ideas that will hopefully expand our minds and hearts in some way.”
Zehtabchi just wrapped a branded short documentary on the Special Olympics with Seattle based advertising agency Publicis. She is currently developing a narrative feature film based on her family’s experience immigrating from Iran to the United States in the 1990s, as well as a feature documentary further expanding on the topic of menstruation worldwide.
Zehtabchi said of her new roost, “PRETTYBIRD is such a force in the industry. They continue to produce some of the freshest, most meaningful work in my opinion. You can tell they pay close attention to nurturing diverse voices, so I’m really honored to now have my voice in the mix.”