TOTO – Short Film Review

It is crazy how films can move us. As humans, we love a good story and in this current social climate, stories can also take on a whole new meaning. In the short film, TOTO, we are invited to take a glimpse into 90-year-old Nonna, Rosa’s life when she welcomes robot, TOTO into her home.

With an incredible performance, it would be hard to believe that this is Rosa Forlano’s first time acting. But with writer, director, and producer Marco Baldonado as Forlano’s real-life grandson, I can understand it would be hard to deny your grandson of his passion project. If anything, I am certain that Forlano would not have had her acting debut in any other way.

This film is a gift. It is so wholesome and pure watching Rosa bond with TOTO when they are making homemade spaghetti together, TOTO providing Rosa a bond that she is denied from both her daughter and granddaughter Santina, played respectively by Mary Rose Sciarrillo and Gabriela Francis. It is also soul shattering when that special moment Rosa and TOTO have is taken away.

The design of the robot is wonderful and even the accompanying music is incredibly charming. You can tell that Baldonado has worked on TOTO for a while to make it as heartfelt and perfect as it can be, and it is. I can honestly tell you that I cannot fault this film.

Not only does TOTO dive into humanity’s dependence on technology, but it also exposes the importance of the finite traditions of our elders and our need for affection, understanding, companionship and appreciation, highlighting a cultural shift with generations, mental health and loneliness.

In this ‘new normal’ of self-isolation and lockdown due to the global pandemic, the topics addressed in TOTO are emotionally intensified due to many of us being unable to see our friends and family, and humanity currently being more dependent on technology than ever before. I can only imagine once all this is over, we will use technology less, and will make an effort to appreciate our loved ones and the little things in life so much more.

TOTO is not only a thought-provoking science-fiction short film that took me on an emotional rollercoaster ride through joy, frustration, heartbreak, and sorrow, moving me to tears (several times). But it is a beautiful piece of art that will hopefully inspire many with our ‘post-corona resolutions’, will ignite our need to discuss the topics in the film long after the movie is over, and is an obvious love letter from Baldonado to his beloved Nonna.

TOTO made its world premiere at the We Are One Global Film Festival and was selected as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is available to watch digitally for free and for a limited time on Youtube.

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