24.10.2023 / 19:00
Director: Lila Avilés
Script: Lila Avilés
Cinematography: Diego Tenorio
Editing: Omar Guzmán
Producers: Tatiana Graullera, Lila Avilés, Louise Riousse
Cast: Naíma Sentíes, Monserrat Marañon, Marisol Gasé, Saori Gurza, Teresita Sánchez
Mexico, Denmark, France 2023
Dazzling and awarded at the Berlinale with the Ecumenical Jury Prize, this film encompasses the entire universe within a single day and a single house. It presents the perspective of seven-year-old Sol, who finds herself in the midst of nerve-wracking preparations for a special family celebration. Someone drinks too much, a cake gets burnt, a woman from the neighborhood banishes evil spirits, and a seemingly innocent exchange of words provokes an outburst. Sol explores the house full of nooksintricacies, feeling a bit bored, she eavesdrops a bit, and eagerly awaits the moment when she can see her father, hidden somewhere upstairs. From fragments of everyday life, from the way light penetrates the cluttered house, from the choreography of crises, and from children’s observations, Mexican filmmaker Lila Avilés constructs her totem: a cinematic myth, a portrait of an ancestor, images that connect the living with the spirits. The intimate perspective subtly expands, and the familial chaos paradoxically becomes part of a larger order in the world, where life and death naturally follow one another in parallel, where storms and tranquility alternate, and where tragedies both destroy and bind together.
Celebrating life and accepting death
Tótem is a compassionate little wonder of a film.
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ.org
Sublimely compassionate, cinematic observations on subjects for which words alone wouldn’t suffice.
Carlos Aguilar, The Playlist
Totem packs a hefty wallop for a film that’s only 95 minutes, and should further solidify Aviles’ reputation as an auteur with a unique vision and remarkable skills with actors, especially non-professionals.
Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter