The film "Balloon," directed by Pema Tseden, is now showing in France
The film "Balloon," directed by the Tibetan film director, Pema Tseden, is currently showing in France, and it is one of his most well-known works. The film, which has received much acclaim both domestically and internationally, stars Sonam Wangmo, Jinpa, and Tso Yangshik, and was shot in the vast Qinghai region. It tells the story of a Tibetan family who become embroiled in a series of awkward and difficult situations because of a condom, exploring the relationship between spiritual beliefs and worldly desires.
In the film, the wife of the family uses condoms provided by the local clinic as a means of contraception, as they are not allowed to have more children under China's one-child policy. However, due to the mischievous behavior of their two young sons, who mistake the condoms for balloons, the wife becomes pregnant again. After the death of the male protagonist's father, according to Tibetan Buddhism, the soul of the deceased will be reborn in a new child. Although the wife attempts to have an abortion, she is ultimately dissuaded by her husband and eldest son.
Just as the famous French film magazine "Positif" commented: "Pema Tseden is a rational poet who uses the complex and tangled relationships and fate of the characters in his plays to allegorize the Tibetan people's well-known belief in reincarnation. He integrates the natural universe, time and space cycles, and the historical process of human behavior, making the story even more fascinating." In the film "Balloon," a small condom becomes the focal point of the various tensions faced by the Tibetan people, including the traditions left by their ancestors, their devout religious beliefs, and the changes brought about by policies.
Metaphors such as balloons, sheep breeding, and fire in the stove are seemingly magical, but they converge in segments with significant realistic implications, such as seeking medical attention, selling sheep, and funerals, to express a "modern questioning" rooted in Tibetan culture, giving the film a more powerful impact. As Pema Tseden said in an interview: "This story is rooted in Tibetan tradition and based on various contradictions in modern China."
At the same time, when we follow the perspective of the wife, who often secretly goes to the family planning clinic to get condoms, communicates with doctors about "eugenics", and secretly plans for abortions, these "radical" ideas in the husband's view show the audience a preliminary awakening of female consciousness.
This highly feminist fable is rich in visual impact and humor, as highly praised by the Beijing Youth Daily: "Another breakthrough of 'The Balloon' is its attention to women. The protagonist Drolkar's advocacy of 'the right not to give birth' in her reproductive rights is quite feminist, which is relatively rare in previous works by Pema Tseden, even in works of ethnic minorities."
As the seventh feature film of Pema Tseden, "The Balloon" has been invited to more than 60 domestic and foreign film festivals, winning 11 professional film awards, including nominations for the Venice International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, Tokyo FILMeX Film Festival, Asian-Pacific Film Awards, Shanghai International Film Festival, Hainan Island International Film Festival, Pingyao International Film Festival, and many other authoritative international and domestic film festivals. It has won numerous awards and nominations for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and more. The film was released in mainland China in November 2020.
"Balloon" takes us into a three-generation family story, living under the same roof. The family's concerns about contraception and their hopes for new life are the troubles they face. However, behind the clear documentary and events presented in this film, the psychological and social background it portrays is much more complex.
"All these aspects of the film tell us that nothing is eternal in this world. With this profound work, Pema Tseden chooses to directly express his exploration of emotions that cannot be expressed."
"Positif", a French film magazine.
"The realistic portrayal and humanistic aspects of 'The Crossing' are what really move people. In capturing the daily life of the shepherds, the village scenes, neighborly relationships, work and trade customs (including a scene where people really do discuss prices in their coat sleeves, a French expression meaning 'secret, underground' trade), the film expresses itself in a more direct and even crude manner. What is particularly impressive is the portrayal of a woman - the main character Drolkar (brilliantly played by Sonam Wangmo) - who bears multiple pressures from patriarchy, Tibetan religion, and social environment. This touch of feminism elevates the film beyond cultural and political conflicts, making it the most pertinent and realistic part of 'The Crossing'."
Ariel Schweitzer, reviewer for French film magazine "Les Cahiers du cinéma".
About the Director
Tibetan director Pema Tseden
Pema Tseden is a Chinese Tibetan film director, screenwriter, and writer. He has published a collection of Tibetan-Chinese novels such as "Temptation", "The Silent Holy Stones", " Tharlo", "Jinpa", "Orgyan's Teeth" and others, which have been translated into many languages and published abroad, and has won many literary awards.
His main film works include "The Silent Holy Stones", "Soul Searching ", "Old Dog", "The Sacred Arrow", "Tharlo", "Jinpa", "Balloon", etc. His deep and detailed descriptions of his hometown have given people a new understanding of Tibetan culture and its living conditions. His works have won dozens of domestic and international awards, including the Best Screenplay Award at the Venice International Film Festival in Italy, the Best Film Award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival in the United States, the Best Film Award at the Tokyo FILMeX International Film Festival in Japan, the Best Adapted Screenplay Award at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, the Best Film Award at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinemal in France, and the Best Screenplay Award at the Chicago International Film Festival in the United States.