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Balloon

Qi Qiu

Pema Tseden | 2019 | 102 MINS
China | Subtitles
A Tibetan family struggles against the conflicting dictates of spirituality, politics and free will under China's one-child policy.

In Detail

Tibet, 1980s: Dargye and Drolkar’s two boisterous youngest sons have blown up their parents’ condoms like balloons. Not only does this outrage their entire village, but more practically: they have no more condoms. The shepherd couple already have three sons, and as China has recently introduced its one-child policy, they can’t have any more.

Both a gorgeously intimate family drama and an idiosyncratic artistic statement flecked with humour and sorrow, but alive always to the co-existence of the banal with the spiritual. In a way, the very act of making a film about daily life in Tibet is in itself political. 'Balloon' deserves credit for making a quiet but meaningful plea for greater ethnic equality.

With its cool colour palette, attentive handheld camerawork, and painterly passages that seem to transpire somewhere between this world and the next, director Pema Tseden approaches the weighty themes with a sense of wonder and features scene stealing performances from the two young boys.

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