Hope in Heaven (2007)

This film follows two years in the life of a Filipino bar girl and deals with the issues of sex tourism in the Philippines. Mila works at a bar called Heaven and lives in hope that a foreigner will rescue her. Writer-director-producer. Funded by CIDA, 45 min. narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. Winner, Beyond Borders media award, 2007, Winner, Best documentary, Big Bear Lake Film Festival, 16 Sept. 2005, Official Selection Atlantic Film Festival, 24 Sept. 2005; broadcast license with CBC Newsworld. Broadcast premiere 16 January 2007 as Selling Sex in Heaven. Reviewed by Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun and got the highest ratings of that program ever.

Mila works at Heaven, a little bar on “blowjob alley” in Angeles city, the Philippines. Once the site of the United States Clark Airforce Base, the city is now one of the busiest and sleaziest sex tourist destination in Southeast Asia. Mila lives in tremendous hope that someday a customer will rescue her from Heaven and take her to America.

In the Philippines, prostitution is not just lucrative business—it’s an industry. Hope in Heaven, by filmmaker Meredith Ralston, examines the country’s sex trade and the young women it traps. Seen through the eyes of two idealistic female students and a male university professor, the film depicts two years of Mila’s life and the people who befriend her. The poverty and squalor she lives in and her hope that one day a foreigner will rescue her are both poignant and heartbreaking.

Length: 43 minutes. Watch the Trailer Now!


The film won a Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival in California and won the Beyond Borders national media award in 2007. The film was very well-reviewed twice by the Globe and Mail (“sobering and heart-breaking”), (“few documentaries have been as hard to watch,” “heart-wrenching”), Toronto Sun (“eye-opening and heartbreaking”), Toronto Star (“disturbing”), and the Canadian Press. It was the Globe and Mail’s “Critic’s Choice” the week it aired and it was also featured on Entertainment Tonight Canada. It has reached over one million viewers nationally.

“Few documentaries have been as hard to watch or have pestered the memory as much as this film. Heaven is the elegant name of a tiny bar found in the inelegantly named “Blowjob Alley.” It’s where Mila sells herself to Western tourists while dreaming of a Pretty Woman-style rescue. But one look at the pasty white men lining the open-air counters along the notorious strip tells you Mila’s dream is pure fantasy.” – John Doyle, The Globe and Mail