A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war.
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)
Written and Directed by Issa López
Starring Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Nery Arredondo,
Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes, Ianis Guerrero, Tenoch Huerta
If Guillermo del Toro is raving about your movie, you're doing something right. Issa López's movie garnered a lot of attention on the festival circuit and, after finally seeing it, I can see why.
Estrella (Lara) is in school writing a fairy tale with the other students in her class when suddenly machine gun fire explodes outside. Bullets begin ripping through the windows, showering the children with broken glass. They take cover under their desks like they've been drilled to do so which states an uncomfortable truth about this child's life: this happens all the time. As they lay on the floor, Estrella's teacher reaches out to her and hands her three pieces of chalk, she tells her they are three wishes. This is where the real life horrors begin to cross paths with the fantastic and supernatural. As she walks home from school a dead body is being covered by police and, as she turns down the corner away from it, blood from the victim follows.
Once home, she makes the first of her three wishes: for her mother to come back. Soon Estrella comes to find out that her wishes reveal an uncomfortable truth, the dead are all around her and always have been. She finds a group of boys who are orphans of the violence just like her and they form their own family. The leader is a young boy named Shine who is determined to kill one of them. They are there only ones brave enough to face these awful murderers who scare everyone else including the police. Eventually they get help from an unlikely source: Estrella's mother.
This film does not let up from the beginning. It will take you on an emotional ride through a world that is relentlessly violent through the eyes of children willing to try and change it. Issa López is a new voice in the genre and is also collaborating with the Mexican Maestro del Toro on a new project so she is definitely being noticed. Don't let the subtitles distract you from a truly wonderful film. Catch it on Shudder.