Interview With Filmmaker Issa Lopez For Steelbook Release Of ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’ (2017)

Tigers Are Not Afraid (read our reviews here and here) caught my eye after it screened at Fantastic Fest 2017 where the Spanish film won Writer/Director Issa Lopez the Best Horror Director prize. Tigers is a dark fairy tale that follows a group of young orphans trying to survive the horrible violence during Mexico’s drug wars. Currently streaming exclusively on Shudder, Tigers Are Not Afraid is set to be the horror streaming platform’s first physical media release, with the steelbook debuting on May 5, 2020. To celebrate the release, I was lucky enough to speak with Issa, and we discussed how the steelbook came about, who she would like to collaborate with, and of course, horror movies.

PopHorror: Hi Issa! I’m so excited to speak with you today. I saw Tigers Are Not Afraid when it played Fantastic Fest last year, and I cried.

Issa Lopez: Oh, it makes me so happy when people cry.

PopHorror: So the steelbook of Tigers Are Not Afraid is coming out on May 5th, thanks to RLJ Entertainment and Shudder. I was doing some research this morning, and I couldn’t find any other production from Shudder. Is this the first time they’ve presented a physical release?

Issa Lopez: It is, and it’s such a prize. They’ve been amazing. They started chasing the movie at Fantastic Fest when it premiered, and they never stopped. Securing the rights was very complicated. But still, they never let go, and they’ve simply embraced it and pushed it. They’re huge believers in it. I also love the fact that they not only created this physical release, but also put in all those extras, because both the DVD, and especially the steelbook, have so much stuff on them. It’s such a luxury as a filmmaker. I could go through production from set designs and casting calls. There’s a feature that’s 45 minutes on how we made the movie. And, it keeps explaining how they worked. In the steelbook, there’s that incredible hour long interview that Guillermo [del Toro] did with me about how the movie was made. As a filmmaker, you dream of having that version of your movie. And it’s here. It’s here, and it’s gorgeous.

PopHorror: That’s so awesome! That has to be an amazing feeling.

Issa Lopez: It is, it is. It has been really unbelievable. The movie, from the time we were doing it – me and the production team – we felt it was unique in the sense that it put together things that we don’t necessarily see together… the feeling and the inclination of City of God, which is a huge influence on the movie. But on the other hand, you have Pan’s Labyrinth or you had The Others. Getting those together was an adventure. When we saw it finished, we were very proud of it.

But then we got an entire year of rejection from every festival you can imagine, and that was tremendous. It made us question so many things about the movie itself, my own quality as a filmmaker, and then after all that battle, getting to a point where you get the reviews and the recommendation of huge influences like del Toro in your work is massive. It feels like going into an adventure and coming out the other side successful.

PopHorror: That’s really amazing. You’re one of our favorite voices out there today, which is why I was really excited to read that you have been keeping very busy during quarantine. What can you tell us about what you’re currently working on?

Issa Lopez: Yeah, I finished the second draft of a movie I’m writing for Guillermo del Toro to produce. It’s a werewolf western, of all things, and I’m so excited about it because when Guillermo invited me to write and direct it, it was an opportunity to go into westerns, which I love, and go into werewolf territory, from which some great movies have been made, like Ginger Snaps and American Werewolf, but it’s been awhile since we had such an exceptional werewolf story. And it’s such a seductive theme. And then third, they are very, very male dominated universes, the western and the werewolf. For me, it was an opportunity to bring a female perspective into that crazy, violent western shoot-out monster-within universe. So, I’ve been preparing that.

PopHorror: How exciting! If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Issa Lopez: Oh, my God. You’re putting the dead here, too. How interesting! Wow. That’s fascinating. I would love to work with two people, and both of them are alive right now. One of them is Kathryn Bigelow. I feel that her range with genres, and her mastery of different genres is incredible. On the other hand, she is a hero of mine that was really informative the way that Guillermo was, and Stephen King was, and Neil Gaiman was, but all of them, I finally was able to get them to watch the movie, and they loved it. And it’s been so rewarding for this little geek inside of me. The one I’m missing is Steven Spielberg. That would be fun because I think I became a filmmaker because of Raiders Of the Lost Ark. The chance of working with such an extraordinary storyteller would be great. I wish I had more time to think about it, but off the top of my head…

PopHorror: No, that’s good! I think I get the most truthful answers when you don’t have the time to think about it. So just one last question, Issa, What is your favorite scary movie?

Issa Lopez: I’m going to go with… I love Lake Mungo. Have you seen that?

PopHorror: Yes.

Issa Lopez: I just love that movie, how it goes in this incredibly uncanny scary way. On top of that, it becomes this fable for love and sadness and secrets. Family secrets. I just adore how it navigates those two, I love, love, love Demián Rugna’s Terrified [read the PopHorror review here]. It’s one of the few movies that’s really scared me recently. And I’m going to throw in a third one, Under the Shadow.

Get the steelbook of Tigers Are Not Afraid on DVD/Blu-ray here!

Thank you so much to Issa for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to pick up your copy of the Shudder exclusive steelbook of Tigers Are Not Afraid at the link above.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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