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In 'Tigers Are Not Afraid,' A Dark Fantasy Amid Mexico's Drug War

Director Issa López blends magical realism and horror with the current events of her native country in the story of young Estrella, who meets a street gang of fellow orphan children.
In Tigers Are Not Afraid, 11-year-old Estrella (Paola Lara) meets a gang of orphans led by a boy in a tiger mask. Source: Shudder

Estrella, age 11, is granted three magical wishes after a tragic event at her school — only to find out that her fate is about to take an even worse turn. It sounds like the beginning of a dark fairy tale, but the movie, Tigers Are Not Afraid, is far more than that.

It takes place during Mexico's violent, bloody drug war. Estrella's mother is taken by the cartels, and in trying to find her mom, she meets a boy named Shine, who wears a tiger mask. He lives on the street and leads a gang of fellow orphans, helping each other survive the constant violence around them while chasing the ghosts of their parents.

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