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Driving with Selvi

2015-2017
Distributed by Collective Eye Films, 1315 SE 20th Ave. #3, Portland OR 97214; 971-236-2056
Produced by Elisa Paloschi
Directed by Elisa Paloschi
DVD , color, 74 min. (theatrical version), 52 min. (educational version)
High School - General Adult
Asia, Gender Identity, India, Women


Reviewed by Mary Northrup, Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, Kansas City, Missouri

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 3/12/2018

This remarkable story, filmed over more than ten years, follows Selvi, who is one of the few women drivers in South India. Over the course of the film, she talks to the interviewer about her life: married at 14 to an abusive husband, an escape to a girls’ school, learning to drive, and now driving taxi and giving lectures on women’s health at the Public Health Institute.

Viewers cannot help but cheer Selvi as she enjoys her driving career, then is engaged to a man who loves her, gets married, and has a baby. A lot of ground is covered in the course of the film, and, especially in the educational version, there are some gaps as it jumps ahead by several years.

Great production values include the cinematography of the scenery, street scenes, and people. The filming of the wedding and the celebration of Grama Devathe will take many viewers to places they have not seen before. Sound is very good, with voiceover narration as well as Selvi talking directly to the camera. Music enhances the film. The dialog used is the native language and some English, all with English subtitles. Many themes brought up by this film would be worthy of discussion, including child marriage, the value of finding one’s vocation, motherhood, family relationships, and South Indian culture.

Selvi continues to try brave new things, as she applies and trains for a heavy vehicle license, and end credits roll over footage of her driving a truck. The theatrical version contains 22 extra minutes, in which more is shown of her time at Onandi Girls’ School, interactions with other drivers, talking with her groom, visiting friends, and other additions that explain some of the events in the educational version. One of the stated purposes of this film is to support girls taking charge of their lives, through the SaveHerASeat.com web site for contributions. Academic use in women’s studies, ethnic studies, sociology, and psychology classes would be very valuable, with class discussions following. Public libraries may want to consider for their collections, too.

Awards

  • Winner, Best Documentary, Atlanta Film Festival, 2016 Official Selection
  • Winner, Best Documentary, Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival 2015
  • Top 10 Audience Favourites, Amsterdam Official Selection IDFA 2015