Balloon is a critically acclaimed, awarding-winning film set in Tibet in the 1980s, depicting one family’s struggles against the conflicting dictates of nature, spirituality, politics, and free will.
Dargye and Drolkar already have three sons, and as China has recently introduced its one-child policy, they can’t have any more. When the couple’s sons discover their parents secret stash of condoms they blow them up; assuming that they are balloons.
Running around the village with their “balloons” the boys enrage the traditional villagers who take issue at once with the boys father, Dargye.
However, a further, more practical problem, arises from the boys’ antics; the couple have no more condoms and find themselves in a precarious situation.
When China’s one-child policy was relaxed in 2015, now permitting two children per family, space opened up for films examining the often profoundly traumatic consequences of this measure.
Director Pema Tseden takes a drily comic approach to the subject here, captured in deceptively simple handheld footage full of implicit symbolism. In his world, there is no chasm between modernity and tradition; rather, the two gently rub against each other.
With its cool colour palette, attentive handheld camerawork, and painterly passages that seem to transpire somewhere between this world and the next.
Balloon will be shown in Tibetan and Chinese with English subtitles.
“The beauty of Balloon goes beyond this tug-of-war between modernity and tradition” The Guardian ★★★★