Didn't get to see all the films during World Cinema Amsterdam 2023? These films are now playing in movie theatres.
According to Iranian law, boys and girls are required to be educated separately. An exception is made for kindergarten, where boys and girls share the room. Six-year-old Roham is in his last kindergarten year and is starting to become curious about intimate relationships. The headmaster hires a cleric to teach the children proper ethical and religious standards – a prelude to the way things will be in their future lives. Roham remains curious and discovers dark secrets in the lives of bully Azad and the quiet girl Rana.
After Paat (2013), this second feature by Iranian filmmaker Amir Toodehroosta tells a sensitive story in which a child's innocence clashes with the raw reality of adults. Though the story is told through the eyes of the children, it becomes clear that everything revolves around the contrast between freedom and suffocating state control.
Seven-year-old Sol spends the day at her grandfather's old home, where her loving family is busy preparing a big surprise party for Sol's father Tona. It is sweltering hot and her aunts are fussing and arranging everything to give him a birthday to remember. Sol meanwhile plays with animals big and small in and around the house. When the sun sets and guests start to trickle in, the cheerful bustle gives way to an elusive melancholy. The party is brimming with joyous love tinged with a bittersweet aftertaste.
This second, multi-award-winning feature by Mexican director Lila Avilés is a more than worthy successor to her debut film La camarista, which won her the 2019 WCA Jury Prize. Tótem celebrates life in an intimate way, showing how everyone handles letting go differently, while they also trying to enjoy every second that life counts.