- Directed by: Elisa Paloschi
Released: 2018 Educational Release
Running Time: 74 min, 52 min educational version
Language: English & Kannada with English Subtitles, English Closed Captions.
Subjects: Feminism, Women's Studies,
East Asian Studies, Sociology
Selvi, like so many girls living within India’s patriarchal culture, is forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under the wheels of a bus. Instead she gets on the bus, choosing to live… and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver.
We first meet 18-year-old Selvi at a girls’ shelter in 2004 – timid, soft-spoken, a fresh runaway from a difficult life. Over a ten-year journey, we see a remarkable transformation as Selvi finds her voice and defies all expectations – learning to drive, starting her own taxi company, leading seminars to educate other women, and much more.
This character-driven story highlights the challenges that millions of devalued women and girls in India face. In a society where women are often considered expendable or worthless, Selvi refuses to accept this estimation for herself, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create an entirely new life.
Through Selvi’s eyes, the audience is taken on an intimate journey of healing, overcoming obstacles, and fulfilling dreams. And throughout this journey, Selvi’s unwavering spirit shines through. Wildly charming (without even realizing it), remarkably strong, and utterly courageous, by the end of the film Selvi speaks almost as a sage or our wisest teacher, sharing important, hard-won secrets about happiness and life.
- Winner - IDFA, Top Ten Audience Favorite
- Winner - Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival
- Winner - Audience Award, Best of Fest - Wakefield International Film Festival
- Winner - Atlanta Film Festival
- Winner - Yorkton Film Festival
- Official Selection - Raindance
- Official Selection - Movies that Matter
- Official Selection - United Nations Film Festival
- Official Selection - Thessaloniki Doc Festival
**Recommended** “This remarkable story, filmed over more than ten years, follows Selvi, who is one of the few women drivers in South India. 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. 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.” - Education Media Reviews Online, Mary Northrup, Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, Kansas City, Missouri
"Selvi is charming, sincere, and vulnerable as she narrates her own story. Viewers can't help but be struck by the symbolism of her finally in the 'driver's seat.' Young people will be inspired by her determination and discovery of a powerful inner strength." - Library Journal (Ellen Druda, Half Hallow Hills Community Lib., Dix Hills, NY)
“A powerful story and one of the most inspirational films. At the core of the story is an issue that is all-too prevalent in countries around the world, and that’s gender-based violence.…ultimately Selvi’s story is about hope and resilience...” – John Beed, U.S. Mission Director for India, USAID
“I think sharing this film is not just important in the Indian content. I think it’s important to share in a global context to change the narrative around women as victims.” – Kavita Ramdas, Country Representative, India, Ford Foundation
“A powerful documentary about hope and empowerment driven by the protagonist’s determination to overcome her own bleak past, Selvi will inspire disenfranchised women around the world to find economic autonomy and freedom in the face of adversity.” – Richard Bale, Former Consul General for Canada, Mumbai
“What I've taken away from this extremely compelling film is the voice of Selvi, about her own sense of self-worth and her ability to build on that, and I think that is really the foundation of development of any kind." – Geetanjali Master, Advocacy and Communications Specialist, UNICEF India
“This is a story that can spark a change in someone’s life.” – Zainab Salbi, Founder, Women for Women International
"Selvi and this film will inspire a generation of women to create their own destinies." – Lina Srivastava, Social Impact Strategist