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review

DRIVING WITH SELVI.

It must be so easy to become depressed while working in the documentary field. Nearly everywhere you turn, every corner of the world you visit, there is some unbelievably sad narrative of human misery waiting to be uncovered. That's the nature of the game, after all – there would be little purpose crafting a film without it pivoting on some unbearable tension or tense human drama. And at first, documentarian Elisa Paloschi's new film Driving with Selvi appears to be of a similar misery-loves-company vein – in the doc's first few minutes, we learn its title subject was married off at 14 to an abusive pimp in South India, a country rich in misery, at least when it comes to similar tales of forced marriage. But then Selvi's journey takes an unexpected, joyous detour as we learn she escaped from her torturer, fell in with a progressive girls' home and became, perhaps improbably, the first female taxi driver in the Indian state of Karnataka. That twist would be enough to delight even the most jaded documentary aficionado, but Paloschi's tight direction and crisp pace further elevate the film, turning what most would assume to be a sob story into a triumphant chronicle that never slips into sentimentality. Barry Hertz

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