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a film by pema tseden


in cinemas 24 september 2021


Drama | 102 mins | China 2019

Tibetan |  12A 

The Tibetan plateau in the 1980s. No more condoms. No more children allowed. No easy answers.

A lyrical and beguiling film from one of the world’s finest directors.

Sex, faith and politics collide in Pema Tseden's exceptional new film. When Drolkar’s two boisterous youngest sons blow up the household’s few remaining condoms, mistaking them for balloons, she’s left with an impossible decision. China has just introduced its One Child Policy and with three children already, there’s no way she can have another. But her husband, Dargye, is still as horny as one of his prize rams...

Tseden deftly balances his challenging subject matter with moments of humour and great tenderness. With its cool colour palette, attentive handheld camerawork, and painterly passages that seem to transpire somewhere between this world and the next, Balloon approaches its story with a sense of wonder and features scene-stealing performances from the two young boys.


Nominated: Best Film  —  76th Venice International Film Festival (Horizons Section)

Special Mention: Sfera 1932 Award  —  76th Venice International Film Festival

Winner: Silver Hugo, Best Screenplay  —  Chicago Interational Film Festival 2019

Winner: Grand Prize  —  Tokyo Filmex 2019

Winner: Best Director & Best Screenplay  —  Shanghai International Film Festival 2020

Nominated: Best Director, Best Screenwriter & Best Cinematographer  —  Asian Film Awards 2020

Nominated: NETPAC Award, Best Picture & Best Director  —  Asian Film Critics Association Awards 2020

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The first ethnic Tibetan to attend the Beijing Film Academy, Pema Tseden has established himself as one of the most talented filmmakers working in China today.

Tseden's films are shot in the Amdo region and feature performers speaking in his native Amdo-Tibetan language.

His work has been championed by Wong Kar Wai, who produced his 2018 feature, Jinpa, winner of Best Screenplay in the Horizons category at Venice. His previous feature, Tharlo was nominated for Best Film in the Horizons category at Venice and released in the UK and Ireland by Day for Night in 2016. 

Tseden is also an award-winning author. His works have been translated into English, French, German, Czech and Japanese.


Written and Directed by Pema Tseden

Cast: Sonam Wangmo, Jinpa, Yangshik Tso

Director of Photography: Lu Songye

Editors: Liao Ching-Sung, Jin Di

Music: Peyman Yazdanian

Producers: Huang Xufeng, Jacky Pang

Co-Producers: Liang Ying, Song Jia

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We're delighted to be partnering with the BFI Film Audience Network for the release of Balloon.

As a BFI FAN New Release title, BFI FAN members can expect:

  • Audio descriptive and captioned versions of the film

  • Marketing pack and assets including programme notes

  • Freelance marketing support in every Film Hub area

  • Pre-recorded Q&A with film talent available (information coming soon)

  • Advice from Inclusive Cinema for exhibitors putting on accessible screenings

  • Budget for Facebook/social media ads

Click here to find out more about the BFI FAN New Release scheme.


Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI.


To celebrate the launch of Balloon, we partnered with BFI FAN to commission a short essay film from the writer and video essayist, Jessica McGoff. The film explores the role of balloons in film across the ages. You can watch it below. To find out details of when our own Balloon will take flight in cinemas, scroll down for a list of Upcoming Screenings.


We'll be adding more screenings to this list soon. Follow us on social media to receive the latest updates.


Dundee Contemporary Arts: 24 – 30 September

Filmhouse, Edinburgh: 1 – 7 October
Glasgow Film Theatre: 1 – 7 October

Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen: 8 – 14 October
Robert Burns Centre, Dumfries: 18 & 19 October
Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling: 11 – 14 October

Eden Court Inverness: 18 – 21 October
An Lanntair Arts Centre, Stornoway: 21 October
Hippodrome Cinema, Bo'ness: 22 – 28 October
Cromarty Cinema: 24 October


Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast: 17 – 19 October


Leeds International Film Festival: 22 September
(Preview Screening)
HOME, Manchester: 24 – 30 September
Showroom Sheffield: 1 – 7 October
Hebden Bridge Picture House: 5 October
Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal: 20 & 21 October
Forum Cinema Hexham: 26 October

Lonsdale Alhambra, Penrith: 21 November
Keswick Alhambra: 12 December


Broadway Nottingham: 11 & 12 October
Leicester Phoenix: 25 – 28 October
Northampton Filmhouse: 28 October
Buxton Film: 22 November

Louth Film Club: 29 November


ICA: 24 – 30 September
Barbican: 27 September, 2 & 3 October

Castle Cinema, Hackney: 24 – 30 September

Catford Mews: 1 – 7 October
Cinema in the Arches: 16 November


Reading Biscuit Factory: 24 – 30 September
Depot Lewes: 1 – 7 October
Hitchin Films: 1 October
Saffron Screen: 4 October
Royston Picture Palace: 10 October
Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford: 15 – 22 October
Gulbenkian Canterbury: 17 October
Chichester New Park: 17 & 19 October

Firstsite Colchester: 18, 20 & 21 October
South Hill Park: 22 & 23 November


Watershed, Bristol: 24 – 30 September
Regent Centre, Christchurch: 25 & 29 September
Exeter Phoenix: 8 –14 October
The Courtyard, Hereford: 11, 18 & 25 October
Gloucester Guildhall: 15 – 22 October
Regal Cinema, Fordingbridge: 20 October
Plymouth Arts Cinema: 22 – 28 October
Strode Theatre: 4 November
Totnes Cinema: 4 & 7 November
Cheltenham Film Society: 9 November
Stroud Film Society: 9 November
The Roses, Tewkesbury: 12 & 17 November


Galeri Caernarfon: 27 September
Chapter, Cardiff: 1 – 7 October
Aberystwyth Arts Centre: 13 & 14 October
Ludlow Assembly Rooms: 30 Nov & 2 Dec

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