Sideshow & Janus Films have snapped up North American rights for Mexican director Lila Avilés’s family drama Tótem following its world premiere in competition at the Berlinale last week.
The movie is the second film from Avilés after award-winning feature debut The Chambermaid, which debuted in Toronto in 2018 and then travelled the international festival circuit before being selected as Mexico’s Oscar submission.
Tótem stars newcomer Naíma Sentíes as a seven-year-old girl navigating the strange atmosphere of a special surprise party being held for her dying artist father, from whom she herself feels temporarily estranged.
Further cast members include stars Montserrat Marañon (Bardo), Marisol Gasê, Saori Gurza, Mateo García Elizondo, Teresita Sánchez (The Chambermaid, Dos Estaciones), Francisco Maldonado, Iazua Larios and Alberto Amador.
The picture is produced by Tatiana Graullera, Avilés and Louise Riousse.
“We were fans of Lila Avilés’ The Chambermaid, but we were not prepared for the overwhelming emotional response we had to Tótem,” Sideshow and Janus Films said.
“This joyous and exuberant film is a true discovery that will bring people out to theaters. It also establishes Avilés as one of the most exciting new, young directors working today. We could not be more excited to work with her and her team to bring this film to American audiences.”
The distribution partners are planning a theatrical release later this year.
“We made Tótem with a great deal of care and passion, and I feel lucky to have a distributor that shares our love of cinema. Tótem could not be in better hands,” said Avilés
The deal was negotiated by Alpha Violet on behalf of the filmmakers with Janus Films and Sideshow. The film is a Limerencia Films, Laterna, Paloma Productions and Alpha Violet Production.
Sideshow and Janus Films currently have Jerzy Skolimowski’s Oscar-hopeful EO on release.
That film just crossed $1M at the North American box office and is also streaming exclusively on Criterion Channel, which first partnered with Sideshow and Janus Films on Oscar winner Drive My Car.
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