February 2–17, 2024

Lila Avilés × 2

So achingly assured is Avilés’s grasp of character and narrative, so attuned is her camera to nuances of perspective, setting, and atmosphere, that she pulls you into [her films’] action with a depth and force of feeling that eludes some of her more veteran peers.”

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

After proving herself as a stage director (of both drama and opera), Lila Avilés turned to film with a determination to learn the craft from the ground up. Rather than film school, Avilés completed a cycle of shorts and mid-length documentaries that culminated in her TIFF-premiering feature debut, the cleverly designed, critically acclaimed The Chambermaid. More recently, Tótem, our pick for the strongest under-the-radar festival premiere of 2023, overwhelmed any expectations her debut might have sparked.

Both films are governed by clear (and restlessly explored) rules for where the camera can go, as well as a careful attention to the aural complexity of domestic spaces. (Guido Berenblum, Lucrecia Martel’s regular sound designer, is a key collaborator.) As for Avilés’s writerly skill, of emotionally rich characterization and flinty deflection of obvious narrative beats, it’s no surprise that Agnès Varda is an important guiding figure for the director.

The Cinematheque is proud to present the theatrical first run of Aviles’s Tótem, and the overdue Vancouver presentation of her debut feature The Chambermaid.

List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2024-Feb Tótem Lila Avilés 2023 Mexico . . .
2024-Feb The Chambermaid Lila Avilés 2018 Mexico