Love According to Dalva (in-person & online)

Dir: Emmanuelle Nicot

France, Belgium


87 mins


Zelda Samson, Alexis Manenti, Fanta Guirassy

Dalva (Zelda Samson) lives alone with her father. She’s only 12 years old and baby-faced, but wears grown-up clothes and heavy make-up, with her hair scraped into a bun.

When the police storm into their home and take Dalva into care, her whole world view shifts. Befriending her new roommate Samia (Fanta Guirassy) and looked after by kindly social worker Jayden (Alexis Manenti), she gradually comes to understand that the relationship she shared with her father was not what she believed it to be. With their help, she begins to learn how to be a child again.

In her poignant feature debut, director Emmanuelle Nicot explores the ramifications of childhood sexual abuse with sensitivity and grace, rejecting a sensationalised depiction of trauma and examining the complexity of coercive, controlling parental relationships in detail. It’s strengthened by a luminous performance from Samson, who fully expresses Dalva’s bewilderment and brings us inside her turbulent emotional journey with honesty and insight.

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