starring Paola Lara, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes, Ianis Guerrero
written and directed by Issa López
by Walter Chaw Estrella (Paola Laura) is just a little girl. Her mother's been disappeared by a local drug cartel and she's living by herself in their tiny apartment. She has three pieces of chalk that a teacher's given her to represent the three wishes little girls without mothers sometimes get in fairy tales about abandonment in times of great evil. She uses the first one to wish for her mother to return, and so her mother does. But her mother's dead, of course, and now Estrella is living on the roof with a small band of other young orphans led by Shine (Juan Ramon Lopez) in hopes that the gangster from whom Shine has lifted a gun and cell phone don't find them. It's W.W. Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw" set against the backdrop of the troubles plaguing modern Mexico, and while it's not entirely clear to the children if Estrella's wishes are actually coming true, it's never really a question for writer-director Issa López, who manifests the subjects of the kids' hopes and fears as animated street graffiti and the sudden animation of a stuffed animal. There are echoes of a lot of things: of Stephen King's short story "Here There Be Tygers", of Isabel Allende's City of the Beasts, and most of all of Guillermo Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone, to which it owes its structure and allegorical strategy. But Tigers Are Not Afraid is most of all its own lyrical thing.