Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Totem (2022) NYICFF 2023

When I tweeted about TOTEM after coming home from the NYICFF screening I received tweets from people who saw the film in Europe who were delighted that the film was going beyond the continent. The amount of love the film has is  astonishing.

Totem is the story of Ama, a young girl who was born to Senegalese parents who migrated to the Netherlands in order to find a better life. She was born on the boat to freedom and the only life she knows was the one in Rotterdam. When the police arrest her mother and her brother for being in the country illegally she has to find a way of finding her father and reuniting the family as well as a way of staying in the only home she has ever known.

Oh and Ama is helped by her totem animal, a giant porcupine.

Absolutely delightful film is one of the absolute gems of this year’s NYICFF. A smile producing film about finding and keeping your place in the world it also speaks volumes about friendship, immigration and the police.  This is a film that grabs you early on and just pulls you along in the best sort of a way.

One of the best things about this film is the use of magical realism. Totem, the porcupine, is magnificent. I’m not entirely sure how it was all done but he kicks serious ass and wins your heart. By the time he goes swimming he will have won you over and made you a believer.  Hell he made it so that by the time the film ended I was a teary mess.

I love this film. I love that it gives us great people, none of who are truly bad, puts them in conflict and resolves them in  a way that rings true. I love that by the time we get to the end the film has honestly earned all the joy the film rings out of us. There isn’t a false step anywhere in this film

This is just great filmmaking and we need to thank NYICFF for putting it on our radar.

If you are NYC this weekend make and effort and go see it when it plays the festival. (Tickets here)

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