See 2020 WFF Selection BALLOON for Free!

March 25, 2021 - 7:36am
Posted by Jim Healy


UPDATE: We have reached the free viewing limit for Balloon. This Cinematheque selection is "SOLD OUT". 

While our campus theatrical venues remain closed, the Cinematheque is continuing our series of movies you can watch at home for free with another superb international drama that was originally selected to screen at the 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival, Pema Tseden's marvelous Balloon.

BALLOON (China | 2019 | 102 min. | In Chinese and Tibetan with English subtitles | Director: Pema Tseden)

It’s the early 1980s in rural Tibet, where three generations of a shepherd family live at the crux of tradition and modernity. Balloon’s playful sensibility is evident from the start: its very first images are glimpsed through the hazy sheen of an inflated piece of latex being playing with by two brothers, unaware that the “balloon” they discovered in their parents’ bedroom is actually their last condom. Practically, this omen isn’t so funny, as China has recently instituted its one-child policy, and the family can’t afford the penalty of having another. The coincidental timing of a sudden death and an unplanned pregnancy exposes them to a profound moral dilemma between the Buddhist belief in reincarnation and China’s restrictive family planning laws. Director Pema Tseden has achieved global stature as Tibet’s most acclaimed filmmaker, but at home he is also known as an accomplished author. This novelist’s sensibility shines through in Balloon, as social and ethical pressures combine to rupture a previously content family. (Mike King). A selection of the 2019 Venice Film Festival and the 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival. 

"Beautiful, funny, and tragic… both a gorgeously intimate family drama and an idiosyncratic artistic statement flecked with humor and sorrow” (Variety).

Balloon is now available to view at home for a limited time. To receive instructions on how to view the movie, send an email to and simply remember to include the word BALLOON in the subject line. No further message is necessary.

Stay healthy and safe. We value your support for the Cinematheque and we look forward to being able to watch movies with you soon in the proper cinematic settings of 4070 Vilas Hall and the Chazen Museum of Art.