Tótem is life-affirming. ” Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News

Set over a single day, Tótem is a tender, choral drama that explores life, love, loss and time.

Teeming with life, this minutely observed ensemble piece is the second feature from Mexican writer-director Lila Avilés. Delicately balancing grief and celebration, touching drama Totem shares a series of evocative character studies and an immersive portrait of a family in crisis.

In a large, bustling Mexican household, seven-year-old Sol (played by magnificent young star Naíma Sentíes) is swept up in a whirlwind of preparations for the birthday party being held for her father, Tona. Seen mostly through Sol’s eyes, the preparations are led by her mother, aunts and other relatives at her grandfather’s home.

As the day goes on, Sol begins to understand the gravity of the celebration this year and watches as her family does the same. Daylight fades and tensions rise with a strange and chaotic atmosphere taking over, shattering the bonds that hold the family together.


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