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Totem (12A)

Sat 09 Dec 2023 - Wed 13 Dec 2023


Other Information

Rated 12A


£8* Standard | £5* Student / Under 25s


Various (See dates below)

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Totem (12A)

Dir. Lila Avilés
2023 | 95 mins | Meixco, Denmark, France
Naíma Sentíes, Montserrat Marañon, Marisol Gasé


  • Sat 09 Dec: 3.20pm
  • Sun 10 Dec: 7.20pm
  • Tue 12 Dec: 10.45am
  • Wed 13 Dec: 2pm

In her second film after The Chambermaid in 2018, Lila Avilés leaves behind the cramped hotel rooms of her debut but continues to work on the connection between relationships and interior spaces.

This time, the setting is a large house where, over the course of a long day, family and friends meet for a dual ritual: it is the birthday of young father and painter Tona, but as it will likely be his last, it is also a farewell ceremony.

There is duality in the film’s soul, too, with the frenzy of preparations and the spontaneity of the celebration concealing the profoundly archaic and spiritual dimension of the title. Tona’s weakened body is initially invisible, protected in a room where he tries to summon up the strength required for the humanist ceremony in which he will be showered with all the love and affection needed to face his final journey.

Like the character of the bonsai-loving patriarch, Avilés takes meticulous care in shaping her own miniature, bending trajectories and feelings, pruning all frills and excess. A film that prepares for loss, Tótem amasses signs and forms of life: animals, insects, plants and a parade of wonderful human beings who are stronger together.

“One of the rare authentic miracles that a film can pull off is to depict the intimate and the seemingly inconsequential with absolute naturalness. That is something Mexican writer/director Lila Avilés achieves with elegance and insight in Tótem.” – Screen International

“There isn’t a false note in the tender Mexican drama Tótem. Writer-director Lila Avilés creates a richly textured, deeply compassionate portrait of a family that’s falling apart as one of its youngest members comes into consciousness. It’s one of the finest movies you’ll see this year” – New York Times


Directed by a woman, written by a woman and starring a significant woman.

F-Rating is a new rating for films directed by women, written by women and/or with significant female characters on screen, in their own right. Find out more here >>

∆ BBFC Rating Details:

Rated 12A – infrequent strong language


*Subject to a £1.50 ticketing system charge. We don’t charge this to make a profit. Find out more >>

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