Lila Aviles’ ‘Totem,’ Tatiana Huezo’s ‘The Echo’ Top Morelia Festival



Mexico’s official entry to the Best International Feature Oscar race, Lila Aviles’ “Totem,” and Tatiana Huezo’s documentary “The Echo” (“El Eco”) snagged three prizes a piece at the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM), which wrapped Sunday, Oct. 29.  

The awards doled out Saturday capped a busy 21st edition that saw a constellation of luminaries in town, including Jodie Foster, Jessica Chastain, Peter Saarsgard, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Huston, James Ivory, Irène Jacob and producing partners Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy.

Mexico’s multi-Oscar nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, (“Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Barbie,” “Brokeback Mountain”) who received the festival’s Premio Cuervo lifetime achievement award, served as a juror in the official selection which gave best Mexican feature and best director awards to “Totem,” described by Variety as anintimate, emotionally rich” film. “Totem” also took home the Audience Award, a good indication of its box office potential.  

The best screenplay award went to Elisa Miller and Daniela Gómez for their gripping drama, “Hurricane Season” (“Temporada de huracanes”), streaming on Netflix from Nov. 1.

Huezo’s “The Echo” continues to reap accolades since its Berlinale bow where it won best documentary, followed by the Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival’s documentary section and the Critics Prize at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

It is eligible to compete for the 96th Academy Awards in the best documentary category and is currently in the Academy’s Screening Room.

At Morelia, “The Echo” clinched best documentary, the doc audience award and best documentary made by a woman.

The Echo
Courtesy of The Match Factory

Morelia opened with “The Dead Don’t Hurt,” Mortensen’s second directorial outing where he is also writer, composer and star in a Western set in an 1860s U.S. border town.

Among the festivals many highlights were masterclasses given by Foster, Ivory, Kennedy and Marshall, among others. 

Ivory also presented his docu “A Cooler Climate,” a compilation of footage that he took during a life-changing trip to Afghanistan in the 1960s. 

Mexico’s Eugenio Derbez was also on hand to present dramedy “Radical” alongside director Christopher Zalla. A Sundance Festival Favorite winner, “Radical” is based on the true story of an unconventional and inspiring teacher in the Mexican border town of Matamoros.  

Carlos Carreras (“The Crime of Father Amaro”) presented the world premiere of his latest film, “Confessions,” in Morelia, which will then be released by Sony Mexico after its Mexico City premiere Oct 31.  

Eva Longoria was also at the Unesco World Heritage town to present her hit dramedy “Flamin’ Hot,” currently streaming on Prime Video.

Mariana y Santiago Arriaga presided over the Mexican premiere of their debut feature “A Cielo Abierto,” written by their father, Guillermo Arriaga. 

Meanwhile, a jury led by Cinema Tropical’s Carlos Gutierrez handed out multiple awards to the participants in the festival’s WIP section, Impulso Morelia, where winners receive awards in cash and kind. 

The Premio José María Riba went to “La libertad de Fierro,” directed by Santiago Esteinou. “

Formas de atravesar un territorio,” from Gabriela Domínguez Ruvalcaba and Bosquenegro and Estudio Errante won the Premio Estudios Churubusco Azteca.

Meanwhile, two films won a Premio de Estudios Splendor Omnia: “La Libertad de Fierro” and “Los sueños que compartimos, helmed by Valentina Leduc and produced by Salamandra Producciones.

The Morelia Film Festival ran Oct. 20 – 29.

2023 FICM Winners: 

Best Mexican Feature

“Totem,” Lila Aviles

Best Director

Lila Aviles, “Totem”

Best Screenplay

“Hurrican Season,” Elisa Miller, Daniela Gómez

Best Actress

Adriana Llabrés, “Todo el silencio”

Best Actor 

Sebastián Rojano, “Todos los incendios”

Best Documentary

“The Echo,” Tatiana Huezo

Audience Award, Documentary

“The Echo”

Best Michoacan Feature

“Tan cerca de las nubes,” Manuel Cañibe

Best Documentary Made by a Woman

“The Echo”

International Film, Audience Award 

“Fallen Leaves,” Aki Kaurismäki


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