by Lila Avilés




Seven-year-old Sol spends the day at her grandfather’s home, helping with the preparations for a surprise party for her father. Throughout the day, chaos slowly takes over, fracturing the family’s foundations. Sol will embrace the essence of letting go as a release for existence.


TÓTEM is a choral film about life. Seven-year-old Sol spends the day at her grandfather’s home, helping her aunts Nuri and Alejandra with the preparations for a surprise party they are throwing for Sol’s father, Tonatiuh. As daylight fades, a strange and chaotic atmosphere takes over, shattering the bonds that hold a family together. Sol will come to understand that her world is about to change dramatically, embracing the essence of letting go and cherishing the breath of life.


Mexico, Denmark, France 2023  4K   95 mn  4:3  5.1 Spanish

Written & Directed by

Lila Avilés

Produced by

Tatiana Graullera, Lila Avilés, Louise Riousse

Coproduced by

Per Damgaard Hansen (Paloma Productions), Jean-Baptiste Bailly-Maitre (Alpha Violet Production)

With the support of Eficine Produccion-BBVA, Danish Film Institute, HBF Hubert Bals, Aide aux Cinémas du Monde, CNC, Visions Sud Est with the support of the SDC


Sol : Naíma Sentíes

Nuri : Montserrat Marañon

Alejandra : Marisol Gasé

Esther : Saori Gurza

Tonatiuh : Mateo García Elizondo

Cruz : Teresita Sánchez

Napo: Juan Francisco Maldonado

Lucía: Iazua Larios

Roberto: Alberto Amador


Diego Tenorio, Cinematographer

Omar Guzmán, Editor

Guido Berenblum, Sound design

Rune Palving, Sound mixer

Nohemi González Martínez, Art direction

Nora Solís & Jimena Fernández, Costume designers

Vanessa Campos, Make up

Gabriela Cartol & Lila Avilés, Casting

Thomas Becka, Music

Carmina Carballal, Assistant Director

Héctor Zubieta, Line Producer


Berlin International Film Festival- OFFICIAL COMPETITION – Ecumenical Jury Award

FEST Belgrade

New Directors/ New Films at Lincoln Center

Cinélatino de Toulouse – AUDIENCE AWARD

Vilnius Film Festival – Critics’ Choice 

Hong Kong International Film Festival- GRAND PRIX Firebird Award

Istanbul Film Festival- Best of Fest

Festival Cinematográfico Internacional del Uruguay- International Competition 


Cannes Ecrans Juniors

Shanghai International Film Festival

Flying Broom International Women’s  Film Festival – FIPRESCI AWARD 

FEST New Directors/ New Films – BEST FILM AWARD

Transilvania International Film Festival

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival – Horizons 

Jerusalem International Film Festival – BEST DIRECTOR AWARD 

New Horizons Festival- Visa Gala 

New Zealand International Film Festival

Durban International Film Festival- BEST DIRECTION AWARD 

Melbourne International Film Festival – SPECIAL JURY MENTION 

Sarajevo Film Festival


World Cinema Amsterdam – Competition 

Seoul Women’s International Film Festival – BEST DIRECTOR

Bucharest International Film Festival – Official Competition

Helsinki International Film Festival

San Sebastian International Film Festival – Horizontes Latinos 

Festival Biarritz Amérique Latine

TÓTEM is the Official Candidate for the Oscar®

Ourense Film Festival

London BFI Film Festival – Love 

Athens International Film Festival – International Competition 

Chicago International Film Festival – International Competition

Tokyo International Film Festival – World Focus 

Outstanding Reviews

Variety – Peter De Bruge “Secrets Are Made and Truths Revealed at an Unforgettable Family Gathering

The NY Times – Jessica Kiang “Avilés manages to corral both, often in the very same shot, delivering deceptively naturalistic performances that plunge us into a young girl’s first experience of the terrible and beautiful coexistence of life and death.”

Le Monde – Clarisse Fabre “The singularity of the project and the sum of tragicomic events that burst like mini fireworks put us in a state of exhilaration.”

The Playlist – Carlos Aguilar “Tótem feels richer in its sublimely compassionate, cinematic observations on subjects for which words alone wouldn’t suffice

Screen International – Jonathan Romney “Lila Avilés achieves this feat with elegance and insight in Tótem” , “this thematically rich piece offers a set of vivid character studies, while musing on life, death and time

The Hollywood Reporter – Leslie Felperin “Tótem packs in a massive amount of drama into a small space, and the rewards are immense

The Film Stage – Rory O’Conor “a beautiful, bustling portrait of a Mexican family

ION Cinema – Nicolas Bell “Life and Death of the Party: Avilés’ ensemble piece balances pain & profundity

The Moveable – Stephen Salto “Lila Avilés’ spellbinding Tótem puts a hold on you

The Film Verdict – Lucy Virgen ” great sensibility and a strong hand in Tótem

Loud and Clear – William Sottor  “an expertly crafted family drama that finds human connection and clashes within confined interiors.”

Little White Lies – Marina Ashioti “affective … impressive.. culminating in an extra-sensory experience

Cineuropa – Fabien Lemercier “a delicate, perceptive and super sensitive story

The NY Times – Manohla Dargis “One of the finest movies you’ll see this year.”