The Brick House

Two friends, Sapa and Hija, spend long afternoons together in a sparsely furnished apartment in the Netherlands. They are listening to music, praying, and relaxing with hot cloths covering their faces. Reminiscing about their childhood in Tanzania, they share anecdotes of their families, the grandmother who used to put the children to sleep, the father who was a taxi driver, and of the childhood dream of becoming a pilot. And they talk of the brick house, a house with no windows, in which one of the men grew up. Here, there is a view, but it is dull and uninviting.
Filmmaker Eliane Esther Bots came across Sapa in a catalog of film extras. After their first meeting, Bots decided to explore the encounter as a method of filmmaking. She invited Sapa to choose a friend as his interlocutor. Extensive conversations, acting exercises, improvisations, and spending Sundays together resulted in the short film The Brick House and in a new friendship.
The film is part of a project called Three Studies of Nearness, a triptych of short experimental documentary films, reflecting on the influence of conflict and migration and on the notions of family and home.
by Eliane Esther Bots
with Sapa, Hija Saleh
Netherlands 2016 Swahili, English 16’ Colour


  • Sapa
  • Hija Saleh


Written and Directed by Eliane Esther Bots
Cinematography Herman van den Bosch
Editing Eliane Esther Bots
Sound Design Matthijs Tuijn
Producer Eliane Esther Bots

Produced by

Eliane Esther Bots

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Eliane Esther Bots

Eliane Esther Bots, born in 1986 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, holds a BA from the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht and an MA from the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam. Her films have been screened at festivals internationally. She is part of the selection committee of the Go Short film festival and currently teaches moving image at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht and is currently based in The Hague.


2011 Gulo; 15 min. 2012 The Captain and the Boy; 9 min. · The Dome & The Cone of Silence; 17 min. 2013 The Visionary; installation, 17 min. 2014 Conversations; 21 min. 2015 We Can’t Come from Nothing; 31 min. 2016 The Brick House

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2017