The Mill Valley Film Festival announced today that Lila Avilés is the 2023 Mind the Gap (MTG) Creation Prize recipient, and will receive $10,000 accolade, for her exceptional directorial achievements in the production of Tótem.
Designed specifically for emerging female and nonbinary filmmakers screening their first or second feature film at the festival, this award celebrates fresh perspectives in cinema, highlighting a sharp artistic vision and a skilled mastery of the cinematic craft.
Tótem is the official submission from Mexico to the 96th Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film.
“We’re thrilled that Lila Avilés is the recipient of this year’s Mind the Gap Creation Prize. Her film, Tótem, is such beautiful work. She and her co-finalists, Hadley Austin and Monica Sorelle, renew my faith in the power of storytelling,” said Zoë Elton, Mill Valley Film Festival and Mind the Gap Director of Programming. “Their films all show a vision tempered by empathy, compassion, and commitment to community, and confirms the importance of having the Creation Prize as a platform for supporting the art of cinema.”
Building on the success of her 2018 debut, The Chambermaid, Lila Avilés once again demonstrates her storytelling prowess with this similarly impressionistic tale that places a child at the center of a family in crisis. Tótem follows a sprawling middle-class family through the eyes of seven-year-old Sol. As her relatives prepare a final birthday celebration for her dying father, Sol navigates their chaotic world, wondering how to stop the inevitable.
A panel of industry professionals, including Zoë Elton (MVFF & MTG Director of Programming), Osinachi Ibe (MTG Manager), Karen “KD” Davis (MVFF Emeritus Senior Programmer–World Cinema), Celeste Wong (MVFF US Indies Programmer), and Christine A. Schantz (MTG Executive Advisor and Creation Prize Underwriter), convened to select the recipient of the 2023 Mind the Gap Creation Prize. All first- or second-time Mind the Gap filmmakers screening their narrative or documentary feature-length film at the 2023 Mill Valley Film Festival were eligible. The recipient receives a $10,000 prize to use at their discretion.
Launched two years ago, the previous Mind the Gap Creation Prize awardees are Ellie Foumbi (2022) for her daring feature directorial debut, Our Father, The Devil, and Nana Mensah (2021) for her feature directorial debut, Queen of Glory.
Tótem will screen on Friday, October 13, at 8:00 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael and on Saturday, October 14, at 4:30 PM at the BAMPFA in Berkeley.