Film based on celebrated Flemish novel opens today


Author Griet Op de Beeck is seeing the film adaptation of her first novel open in cinemas at the same time as her new book is published – and she’s revealed a startlingly personal story

Talking about trauma

The movie Vele hemels boven de zevende (Many Heavens Above the Seventh) opens today in cinemas across Belgium. It is an adaptation of Flemish author Griet Op de Beeck’s award-winning 2013 debut novel.

Op de Beeck, also a well-known journalist, has been in the spotlight a great deal over the last several weeks because she revealed that she was sexually abused by her father for four years when she was a child. She finally told her story, she said, because of the publication of her new book Het beste wat we hebben (The Best We Have).

The book is the first of a trilogy, she said, that has incest as a central theme. The author told Dutch talk show De wereld draait door in September that it was time to reveal that she was working through this past trauma. She was going to publish three books on the theme, she said, and couldn’t see herself pretending that it wasn’t personal.

Vele hemels, meanwhile, revolves around several related characters all dealing with their own personal issues, from a 71-year-old alcoholic grandfather to a pre-teen girl wrangling with a new school. It is the feature film debut of Jan Matthys, who has made numerous popular TV series, including In Vlaamse velden (In Flemish Fields) and Quiz Me Quick.

Photo: Griet Op de Beeck during a 2016 interview on Dutch TV