Skip to content

Healing Balm

Zhang Ping

Release year: 2017

Run time: 74 mins

Film type: Documentary


An ill father who keeps to himself and a hardworking mother who gathers herbs. Their humble lifestyle in the hills during winter and a home—these are the things that await their middle-age daughter when she returns home for the spring festival. Blessed by daily life, forgotten while living, dead while alive.


Director biography

ZHANG Ping, writer and filmmaker, born in Hunan in 1978. She worked in Tibet from 2003 to 2012 as a writer and contemporary artist, and has lived in Beijing since 2014, working in film, theatre and writing. She has completed four documentaries independently, including No Land (2015), Healing Balm (2017), Love Song for Living, Love Song for the Dead(2019) and Hei Qi (2021), which have entered film festivals and archival collections at home and abroad. She has published a collection of essays Ten Years of Tibetan Drift (CITIC Press, 2014), and an experimental novel Finding a Grassy Slope with the Wind and Sunshine to Sleep (Shanghai Sanlian Publishing House, 2017).

Director's statement

I returned to my parents in winter. In an abandoned village, my octogenarian parents live in isolation with their routines, the pain of recollection, and of living in the present. What is the cure? My old mother is my cure. Familial misfortunes have not shattered her, who stood in the barren fields looking for the cure of reality, holding up the decency and pleasure of being. Amidst the ruins my mother sings, pretty, pretty, really pretty. This is the healing balm prescribed to me. Life itself is a bland remedy, in need of an analgesic to treat the putrefication