Driving with Selvi

Guest Post: Review by Devon Labrie

On Thursday February 25th I went and saw a documentary film, directed and produced by Elisa Paloschi, called Driving with Selvi. After the Documentary, I had the privilege of listening to an audience question period and talk with Elisa and Selvi. When Selvi was 14 she was forced into marriage with an older man who severely abused. Eventually Selvi ran away and escaped this abusive and intolerable situation. The documentary was filmed over ten years and follows the life of Selvi. When Elisa first met Selvi, she was an 18 year old living at Odanadi, a shelter for girls and women who had experienced violence. Selvi was just starting her training to be a driver. The film follows Selvi’s life in overcoming her difficult past, moving on, finding a career she loves, falling in love and through constant optimism and courage learns that life can be beautiful. Driving with Selvi is a beautiful film that brings awareness to the current issue of violence against women and child brides in India but also offers hope.

One aspect of the film that was truly breath taking was the cinematography of the film. There were many different shots throughout the film that illustrated the beauty of India. The colours and the culture captured in the film were phenomenal and really brought the film to life.

One aspect of this film that stood out to me was over all how uplifting it was. I often find that when people try and bring awareness of an issue they do so by showing the brutality of it. What I loved about this film was that through watching the film the audience becomes aware of all the horrendous issues that are taking place right now in India in terms of child brides and violence against women, but at the same time it was providing a solution, a way out, and it had an uplifting message of hope. Through the media we are made aware of one concern after another, about all the dreadful occurrences happening in the world. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and leaves one with a feeling of helplessness. We always hear about all the problems but never the solutions. This film not only creates awareness but it offers hope that things can change. Elisa’s goal is to show the film to one million women and girls across India to demonstrate to them how it is possible for them to be there own person and take control of their lives just as Selvi has done. Elisa is hoping that through awareness, education and training a movement can develop which will bring to an end the issue of child brides in India.

In DEVS 240 there has been a lot of discussion about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that although they are universal they are not practice everywhere in the world. India and child brides are an example of this; girls as young as twelve, are being sold into marriage by their parents or older siblings, to men who are often is more than twice their age. Many young girls in India do not realize that they have any rights or a voice and do not know how to stand up for themselves. In my opinion, supporting human rights does not mean pushing western ideas of what we believe is right or wrong on to other cultures, human rights is giving every single person in the world the tools and the education they need to learn to stand up for themselves, just as Selvi did all on her own. I believe Driving with Selvi is a great way to start this education and movement in India to hopefully help stop the abuse of women and girls in India.

Elisa is a close family friend and is someone I have always looked up to. I grew up hearing about her travels to India and now seeing the final completion of all her hard work and the movement she is creating it is surreal. She is one of the reasons I wanted to major in Global Development. Although a lot of the time it is really upsetting as we learn about all that is wrong with the world, this film gives me hope that if one person, well two people Selvi and Elisa, can make such a big change in standing up for what they believe in, that hopefully one day I will be able to do the same and make the world a little better one step at time.

Devon Labrie is in her second year at Queens University.

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