Skip to main content
Tótem film image

Tótem

This event has passed

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.

 

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

 

Tótem is a film of unexpected beauty…
Slant Magazine

Director
Cast

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

Credits
Country of Origin

Mexico/Denmark/France

Year

2023

Series

Panorama

Language

In Spanish with English subtitles

Film Contact
18+
95 min
Drama Women Directors

Book Tickets

This event has passed.

Credits

Producer

Tatiana Graullera, Lila Avilés, Louise Riousse

Screenwriter

Lila Avilés

Cinematography

Diego Tenorio

Editor

Omar Guzmán

Production Design

Nohemi González Martínez

Original Music

Thomas Becka

Director

Lila Avilés headshot

Lila Avilés

Lila Avilés is a Mexican independent film director, screenwriter and producer. She founded her production company, Limerencia Films in 2018. Her debut feature film The Chambermaid (2018) represented Mexico at the 2020 Oscars© and Goya Awards. The film was invited to more than 60 festivals around the world achieving a large number of international and national awards, plus a strong reception from critics.

Filmography: The Chambermaid (2018)

Missing VIFF? Check out what's playing at the VIFF Centre

Les Filles du Roi

Corey Payette's rousing microbudget musical (adapted from the Urban Ink stage production he cowrote with Julie McIsaac) chronicles the friendship between a seventeenth century French woman and a Mohawk trader and his sister.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre VIFF Centre - Lochmaddy Studio Theatre

Yintah

Yintah -- land -- is at issue in this fierce front line doc about the resistance of the Witsuwit'en nation to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline over the course of a decade.

VIFF Centre - Lochmaddy Studio Theatre

Wildhood

When Link discovers that his Mi’kmaw mother may still be alive, he and his half-brother finally have purpose. On the road to Mi’kma’ki, they pick up a drifter who represents Link’s best chance of locating his mom and accepting his Two-Spirit nature.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Red Fever

From the filmmakers who gave us Reel Injun and Rumble, Red Fever digs into the many ways the Indigenous peoples of this land have left their mark on the culture we all share, whether in the fields of fashion, sport, politics or the environment.

VIFF Centre - Lochmaddy Studio Theatre VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Bones of Crows

Vancouver-born Dene/Métis writer-director Marie Clements lays out a hard history of Indigenous resilience in this urgent, harrowing epic, spanning most of the 20th century; the story of a Cree woman from childhood, through residential school, WWII, and beyond.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Hey Viktor!

25 years after the success of the iconic film Smoke Signals, a disheveled former child actor decides to create a sequel to relive his fame. This mockumentary follows him on the chaotic uphill journey to do whatever it takes to make it big again.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre