The Tiger's Fight (2016)
After a year of drought, Nicolas prepares for "The tiger's fights" a prehispanic ritual where the village men fight to imitate thunder and foster the rain, hope of a good harvest. Inspired by one of the last surviving blood rituals in Mexico, "The Tiger's Fight" tells the story of Nicolas, a young man who wants to preserve the ritual, even when his love defies the traditions of his people.
- In a central Mexican village, an indigenous folk tradition has been observed for centuries during times of drought, wherein men dress up as tigers and engage in ceremonial combat. The noise or "thunder" of their fights is intended as a stimulus to encourage the god of rain to send showers and revitalize the parched earth. Part of the ritual involves each man-tiger harvesting blossoms from a particular type of tree and offering them to his lady love (thus, the tiger and the flower). In advance of the event, Pablo uses a punching bag to train Nico in techniques of fighting. "Hit hard, like a man," he commands. He asks Nico to whom he will give his flowers, but Nico dodges the question. We see the two of them out later picking the flowers, which grow on the branches of trees. Nico scales one tree to pluck a bloom but pricks his finger on a thorn. "Love hurts," Pablo informs him. Pablo will not be giving flowers to any girl, because after a year he is still in mourning over the death of his father. So he hands a flower to Nico, remarking, "Here, I don't need it." A scene in church of villagers attending mass underscores the unique ways in which the Catholic religion and prehispanic practices and beliefs have become blended in Mexican culture. In this scene we learn that another young man, Santiago, is in love with Nico's sister, Lupita. As the festival approaches, Pablo helps Nico to prepare his tiger costume, which had belonged to Nico's father. Pablo paints the finishing touches onto Nico's mask and his own, and we think that masks may hide many secrets. The awaited day of ritual music, dancing and fighting arrives. Nico has gathered a great many flowers, more than Santiago, so in order that his sister can feel justly proud of her suitor, Nico gives his flowers to Santiago, who embraces him warmly and dashes eagerly to deliver his bounty to Lupita. When Pablo sees Nico flowerless, he tells him "we still have time," and the two run off to the place where flowers are picked. Nico is holding a flower when Pablo insists on knowing the identity of Nico's beloved. After a moment's hesitation, Nico extends the flower to Pablo, who seems not to know how to respond. But then he quickly throws the blossom to the ground. Nico pushes Pablo backward, and the two begin to stumble and grapple. Pablo's pointers on how to fight have apparently not been lost on Nico. As the fight continues, however, Nico's physical contact with Pablo begins to look more like affectionate touching and embracing, and Pablo's moves do to some extent as well. Amid the scuffle, thunder is heard, and rain begins to fall. At length, the exhausted young men slump to the ground, back-to-back, breathing hard, leaning on each other for support. The rain god may have been moved to action by the struggling of these two young men in particular, whose fight is perhaps more significant and affecting than those of the other villagers. In any event, the drought has been broken, and life in the village will go on, bringing both continuity and change.