CIFF Review: Tigers Are Not Afraid

(Mexico) Tigers Are Not Afraid was my #1 pick before the festival started, so I highly anticipated this screening, my last. Although I enjoyed it’s magic, Five Fingers for Marseille was my fav CIFF42 pick, followed by Liyana. Being #3 on the list wasn’t a bad thing because Tigers Are Not Afraid was worth the wait and a great way to end my festival experience. 

A suspense thriller fairy tale fantasy, set in a Mexican slum (not sure where), the film was about 5 Mexican orphans, how they managed to survive the streets, and how they defeated the bad guy who made them orphans. 

I adored those kids. Each had their own special quality. El Shine and Estrella, the leaders. Tusci & Pop, the comedians. And the baby of the bunch, Morro who didn't speak because of something tragic he saw. All of them were heroes with a tiger as their spirit animal. Estrella had access to the magic (spooky at times) but useful and necessary in the end.


While it didn’t beat out my fav, it was definitely a best-in-class film (directed by Issa Lopez - 40% of movies at CIFF42 had women directors). I again recommend you catch if it ever comes to Cleveland or streams on one of the popular streaming services. 

Based on the 7 movies I saw at CIFF42, a theme emerged for me. It wasn’t on purpose - a mere coincidence at best. 

2 were out of the ordinary westerns - one set in Indonesia and the other in South Africa
5 involved children in some type of distress, who were actually heroes
2 involved a “gang” of 5 children
5 were suspense thrillers and all but 1 ended hopefully
5 had plots based on a current social dilemma, 4 of which involved children
7 had an element of magic either built into the plot or in how it affected me

All in all, I had an exhausting but magical festival holiday that reinforced my love of children, the genre of film I’m drawn to, and unexpected insight about geography and social dilemmas we face today.

I can’t wait to see what CIFF43 has in store for us all next year!

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