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Tótem film image


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In a large, chaotic household, preparations are underway for the birthday of a young painter and father, Tona (Mateo García Elizondo), whose terminal illness means that the party may well be his last. In the lead-up to this celebration-cum-farewell, his daughter, seven-year-old Sol (Naíma Sentíes), finds herself caught in an adult world which she struggles to comprehend, among totemic signs she cannot yet read. But as night approaches, she gets a dim but growing sense that her world is about to change irrevocably.

Immersing us in a claustrophobic environment literally teeming with life—the presence of animals is a constant throughout—Tótem confirms the talent of rising Mexican director Lila Avilés (The Chambermaid). Filming in the narrow 4:3 aspect ratio, and employing fluid, mobile camerawork, Avilés maintains a tricky balance of perspectives, observing the adult characters with wry, ironic detachment, while giving genuine weight to Sol’s psychological turmoil. Layered with political and emotional resonance, the result is truly one-of-a-kind: a Buñuelian class study keyed to the interior life of a child.


Lila Avilés


Naíma Sentíes, Montserrat Marañon, Marisol Gasé, Saori Gurza, Mateo García Elizondo

Country of Origin





In Spanish with English subtitles


Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Berlin 2023; Best Director, Beijing 2023

95 min

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Tatiana Graullera, Lila Avilés, Louise Riousse


Lila Avilés


Diego Tenorio


Omar Guzmán

Production Design

Nohemi González Martínez

Original Music

Thomas Becka

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