Sol, a seven-year-old girl goes to her grandfather’s home, where her aunts Nuri and Alejandra are throwing a surprise birthday party for her father. Probably his last, so in a sense it is also a farewell ceremony. With the onset of dusk an unfamiliar and unrestraint atmosphere takes over, breaking the family bonds. For Sol the world is about to change as she learns, the essence of letting go and feel of the breath of life.
Length: 95 minutes
Language: Spanish (English Subtitles)
Format: DCP (DVD in the future)
Date: 1st December 2023
“One of the rare authentic miracles that a film can pull off is to depict the intimate and the seemingly inconsequential with absolute naturalness. That is something Mexican writer/director Lila Avilés achieves with elegance and insight in Tótem, her follow-up to much-praised 2018 debut The Chambermaid
Jonathan Romney, SCREEN
“There isn’t a false note in the tender Mexican drama “Tótem,” which follows the 7-year-old Sol (Naíma Sentíes, suitably luminous) as she navigates the chaos and indifference of her sprawling family during celebrations for her ailing father. With intricate staging, lapidary camerawork and an expressionistically warm palette — along charming appearances from the natural world — the writer-director Lila Avilés creates a richly textured, deeply compassionate portrait of a family that’s falling apart as one of its youngest members comes into consciousness. “Tótem” is only Avilés’s second feature — her first, “The Chambermaid,” screened at the 2019 festival — but it’s also one of the finest movies you’ll see this year.
Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES