Helsinki Cine Aasia’s opening film is Balloon (Qi qiu, 2019), the latest work from one of Tibet’s best-known filmmakers, Pema Tseden. Balloon has garnered praise at international festivals as well as several accolades. The film is about the difficulties of combining the traditional with the modern.
The story is set in the 1980’s, during the one-child policy. A couple raising a herd of sheep and three children is forced to navigate between human nature, spirituality, politics and free will. No more children should be born, but how will they take care of contraception when the children turn their parents’ last condoms into balloons?
Pema Tseden (b. 1969) is an award-winning filmmaker and writer who depicts the conditions and culture of his origin with insight and a humane touch. In Balloon, he wanted to explore the relationship between reality and the soul. “When the Buddhist faith and the reality of modern society collide, Tibetans are faced with choices,” Tseden has said. Balloon‘s sheepherder Dargye, and especially his wife Drolkar, also struggle with these choices. To balance the major social issues the film also offers light-hearted and gentle humour. Filmed around the scenic Qinghai Lake, the film tells its multifaceted story with poetic images.
Pema Tseden’s previous film Jinpa (Zhuang si le yi zhi yang, 2018), a road movie with a darkly humorous tone and influences from the Western genre, is also featured in this year’s Helsinki Cine Aasia selection. The film stars the actor of the same name – Jinpa – who portrays Balloon‘s leading character as well. Tseden’s unique style is already familiar to Helsinki Cine Aasia’s audiences from the 2016 festival, when the program included his film Tharlo (2015), a drama-comedy about a Tibetan man hitting the road in search of his true identity.
The full festival program for the eighth Helsinki Cine Aasia will be released on Tuesday February 25th. Ticket sales will begin on Thursday February 27th.