TIFF16: Le Ciel Flamand (Flemish Heaven)

The operator of a Belgian brothel tries to keep the family business a secret from her young daughter in Le Ciel Flamand (Flemish Heaven). Sylvie (Sara Vertongen) is the owner/operator of a brothel in Belgium with her mother Monique (Ingrid De Vos). Despite not being ashamed by her career choice, Sylvie tries to hide the true nature of the business from her young daughter Eline (Esra Vandenbussche), who is frequently watched over by Dirk (Wim Willaert). However, on her sixth birthday, Eline’s curiosity gets the better of her and she enters the brothel, which leads to an incident that changes everything.

Le Ciel Flamand is a mother/daughter drama set among the backdrop of the sex industry. Sylvie works in prostitution and wants to keep this fact a secret from her young daughter Eline for as long as possible. As such, when Sylvie is at work, Eline is often waiting in the car or being looked after by “Uncle” Dirk. However, this all changes when Eline decides to enter the brothel, which leads to a horrible incident involving one of the clientele. This results in a questioning of Sylvie’s choice of career and the relationship she has with her daughter.

Le Ciel Flamand is not really a film about the sex industry, even though the title of the film take its name from the brothel that Sylvie and her mother operate. I can’t get too in detail about the film, without mentioning the inciting incident that truly sets the film in motion. I will say that the “Flemish Heaven” description of the brothel ends up being quite ironic, since there is really nothing all that heavenly that goes on behind those doors. However, the film isn’t really a condemnation of the sex industry and the bad things that go on just causes Sylvie to think that perhaps she should give a little more attention to her daughter.

7 / 10 stars


  • Sunday, September 11, 5:30 PM – Scotiabank Theatre 4
  • Tuesday, September 13, 9:30 AM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
  • Sunday, September 18, 3:15 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).