Today we’re celebrating Trans Awareness Week (13th - 19th November), which raises the visibility of the transgender community and the issues they face. It also provides an opportunity for transgender people and their allies to advocate for the education of the public, and to share their stories and experiences.
What better way to do this by sharing two films from this year's Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds Queer Short Film Competition.
Curated by the magnificent Leeds Queer Film Festival – who sadly had to cancel their own festival this year – they’ve programmed a brilliant selection of 14 new international shorts, focusing on LGBTQ+ stories.
The Name of the Son (El nombre del hijo, 2020)
Screened earlier this year in the Berlinale 70 Generation strand, Martina Matzkin’s short is a tender film of acceptance and understanding. As he begins to go through puberty, Lucho’s process of transition brings to light his father’s insecurity about how to maintain a loving bond with his son.
Playback (Ensayo de una despedida, 2019)
In a moving tribute to a group of Argentinian drag queens and transgender women, Playback is a documentary made up of VHS footage of their shows in the 80s and 90s. As their friends and loved ones began to die from AIDS, they filmed loving memorials, creating their own happy endings.
We’re celebrating another week of #LIFF2020 with the magnificent Balloon (气球 / Qi qiu, 2019). If you’re going to see a film about Tibetan sheep farmers this year - make it this one.
Balloon (气球 / Qi qiu, 2019), is a poetic, beautifully observed drama, centred on the earthy normality of farming life during the 1980s, when China imposed strict family planning laws.
Whilst a delicate balance of tradition, spirituality, belief and modernity puts pressure on the farmer’s lives, more specifically, Balloon exposes how these pressures and that oppressive law combine to prevent women making decisions about their own bodies. However, the film is far from a difficult or depressing watch that this might imply. Playing with the multiple meanings of the balloon itself, director Pema Tseden shifts around layers of humour and good-naturedness with the lightness of wind blowing across the grasslands where the family live.
From the patches of bright colour throughout the gentle cinematography, to the prejudice that threatens to burst the thin membrane of their happiness, and particularly in the comedy and fun that the film creates, when the two unruly boys mistake a condom for a balloon. There are of course mistakes, tragedy and sorrow in all our lives, but this is tempered by the bonds of humanity, the strength of love and the forgiveness of families.
A thoughtful evocation of Tibetan culture, and a meditation on birth and rebirth, Balloon is available on the Leeds Film Player until 30th November.