‘La Bestia’ Animated Film Featuring Mexican Child Riding Migrant Freight Train Wins Annie Award

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Awards for the best in animation were given out at the 48th annual Annie Awards on Friday night (April 16) and set up a probable showdown at the upcoming Academy Awards between the top two winners, Soul and Wolfwalkers.

The leading contenders weren’t the only ones to take home a prize, however. The award for Best Student Film went to La Bestia, a short film about a one-armed Mexican smuggler named Guayaba and a little girl named Lupita, who are traveling on top of a freight train known as La Bestia. The little girl’s parents, the smuggler says, “paid me good money, so you get a better life in America. So, don’t f—ing die.”

The film was produced by students at Gobelins, a visual arts school in Paris. It was directed by Marlijn Van Nuenen, Ram Tamez and Alfredo Gerard Kuttikatt. Tamez is a Mexican 2D animation filmmaker living in Paris. He graduated from Gobelins with a Master of Arts in Character Animation thanks to a scholarship he received from Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water).

“Since our film is in Spanish, I would like to say, ‘Muchas gracias, querido vecino. Buenas noches,’” Tamez said in his short acceptance speech.

During the 8-minute short, the train takes on a life of its own–breathing heavily as if it had lungs in its metal compartments and morphing into something straight out of a horror movie from the 1980s like The Thing or The Fly. Lupita attempts to help the hard-hearted Guayaba tend to an injury he gets during the trip, but he is not interested in making friends.

Tamez, who has worked at several studios like Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, not only co-directed the film, but he also lent his voice to the character Guayaba and wrote and played the guitar for the film’s sole song, “Pólizon.”