Dhalinyaro is a lovely, sweet, coming-of-age film about three girls in Djibouti City, in the lead up to them taking their final exams and going off to university. The film follows their ups and downs as they deal with exam pressure, household obligations, parents, boys, love and sex.

Deka begins an on-again-off-again unconsummated affair with an older married man, and struggles to make a decision about where to go for university. Hibo knows she’s going to study abroad in Paris, as seems her destiny coming from a well-to-do family with a mansion and servants. Asma stresses about doing well in her exams, as she know how much her parents work and sacrifice for her, and how hard it is to support their family on their current income.

The other main character in the film is the city of Djibouti itself. In some ways, this is not just a film about growing up and saying goodbye to your friends. It’s about growing up in the city, and saying goodbye to it too. Deka loves her home, she feeds all the weans on the street, takes tea to her neighbour across the way and listens to his stories. She loves this city, its beach and its streets, and that comes across in the film. I just loved the way the city was shot, you can almost feel the heat, the air, the smell. When girls go swimming in the crystal clear sea, you can understand how you would never want to leave.

Just a lovely little slice of life.