52 FILMS BY WOMEN: #19 Vuelven (Tigers are not afraid) (2017) Mexico Written by Issa Lopez

52 FILMS BY WOMEN: #19

Vuelven (Tigers are not afraid) (2018) Mexico

Written by Issa  by Lopez

Review by Kristina Leath-Malin

Vuelven (Tigers Are Not Afraid) is the most hauntingly beautiful Ghost Story from writer/director Issa Lopez who channels not only a poetic truth of drug wars through children’s eyes, but also loss with such an eerie and heart-wrenching undertone of resilience through strife.

Vuelven tells the story of a small band of orphans who must navigate the cartel ruled streets of Mexico City to survive, led by “El Shine” (Juan Ramon Lopez) They are tough, street smart, and taken aback when a girl “Estrella” (Paola Lara) enters their space. Initially an outsider among outsiders, Estrella slowly stalks the boys till they begrudgingly let her tag along as she too has recently lost her parent to the cartel wars and has a very deep connection that is profoundly supernatural to the dead. Things quickly become dangerous as the cartels move in hoping to make these children drug mules, which forces them to migrate to any place the cartel is not. When one child is captured, it prompts a showdown that will be devastating to both sides.

The film’s style feels thoughtfully cold and bleak as exploring the idea of children caught in the center of an on-going drug war should not be sugar-coated. It seems very few artistic elements allude to a “vibrancy” in motif, except for the tiger which symbolizes strength, courage, and perseverance reflective of each child’s heart and connection to one another. When we see Estrella under her desk at school during a nearby gun shoot out and later Shine finding a gun in an alley, these moments speak to this helpless environment that these children are growing up in as orphans in this war.

Vuelven also shows you the underbelly of innocence stolen, leaving a dark sense of melancholy as it likens itself to other similarly toned tales like; Pan’s Labyrinth, Legend, The Dark Crystal, even Labyrinth without the need to land on rainbows, but instead to be brutally honest about the subject of “Wishes”.¬† On a technical note, and after having seen this @ Final Girls Horror Film Festival in Berlin I was over the moon to see such a great film written, directed, and produced by women.

If your heart can take it, watch this must-see film.

Vuelven (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 2017

Writer/Director: Issa Lopez

Produced by: Tania Benitez

Starring: Paola Lara, Juan Ramon Lopez, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes, Ianis Guerrero, Tenoch Huerta