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Almost Heaven 12 rating

Carol Salter's award-winning portrait of a young Chinese woman training to become a mortician is a tender and reflective elegy on death and the fragility of life.

Documentary 2017 72 mins

Director: Carol Salter


Carol Salter's tender and reflective portrait of Ying Ling, a young woman training to become a mortician at one of China’s largest funeral homes, was awarded Best Documentary at the 2017 British Independent Film Awards. Despite being away from home for the first time, and her fear of ghosts and dead bodies, Ying Ling learns the spa rituals; cleaning and massaging corpses while grieving families look on. She finds solace in her macabre role through playful banter with another of young mortician, and together, they spend their time off talking about their hopes, fears and plans for the future. As one of many rural-to-urban teenagers working to support her family, Ying Ling must immerse herself in the surreal and grinding world of China’s industrialisation of mortality.

With intimate access and moments of black humour, Almost Heaven follows Ying Ling as she learns about life while surrounded by death.