Lila Avilés × 2
Screening Dates
  • February 2 (Friday) 6:30
  • February 4 (Sunday) 8:40
  • February 13 (Tuesday) 6:30
  • February 17 (Saturday) 8:50

There isn’t a false note in Tótem … Avilés creates a richly textured, deeply compassionate portrait of a family … One of the finest movies you’ll see this year.”

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

A standout at last year’s Berlinale, the second feature from Lila Avilés is a densely populated childhood lyric, a film led by the sense of imagination and chaos that arrives when encountering new and unfamiliar phenomena. The world of seven-year-old Sol (Naíma Sentíes) is invaded by a multigenerational celebration for her terminally ill father Tona and its atmosphere of claustrophobic warmth, tension, superstition, and aching memory. Full of radiant energy, subjective isolation, and moment-to-moment transformation, Tótem always returns to Sol’s perspective, allowing it to inflect the camera’s framing of conversations, creatures, and her father’s paintings, which line the walls of the house. Avilés doesn’t use this point of view for the forceful catharsis of a typical coming-of-age narrative; instead, this is a film that respects the ironic distance between what a child knows and doesn’t, and illustrates how that gap can close.

In Spanish with English subtitles

Emotionally devastating … [Tótem] represents a big and stunning leap in the director’s artistry.”

La Frances Hui, New Directors/New Films

Inexplicably overlooked by the Berlinale jury, [Tótem] represented the festival’s most gratifying instance of a promising filmmaker leaping into the major leagues.”

Jonathan Romney, Sight and Sound

Confirms Avilés’s talent, but also showcases her ability to work with different sets of formal parameters … Not everything is seen from Sol’s perspective, but she is the prism through which we grant events and actions any significance—through which we distinguish, or rather fail to distinguish, between nature and culture, superstition and fact.”

Lawrence Garcia, Standard Gauge