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Short Film Tells of a Year in New York—Through a Landlord's Voicemails

The calls are coming from somewhere inside the building.

by Diana Shi
25 December 2016, 5:30am

GIFs by the author, via

From pigeon nursing to home improvement recommendations, every new city apartment comes with its requisite over-involved landlord. The expectedly cramped quarters of a New York City apartment are brought even closer to home through a a voiceover-fueled short film by Brian Bolster. Narrated completely in recorded voicemails from Rita the Landlord—and there are many—the short film One Year Lease captures 365 days of well-intentioned pestering and NYC moxie. Rita's consistently untimely interjections into the life of her two residents, Brian and Tom, are undeniably hilarious, large in part due to Rita’s caricature-like personality and her distinctive 'New Yawk' accent.

The many parts that make up a lived in home, from magnets on the fridge to the look of pillows arranged on a couch, all offer visual context to experience of renting in New York City for a full calendar year. Broken up by interstitials of the filmmaker’s cat, Casper, as he self-grooms and eats wet and dry food, the constant presence of Rita’s voice advances the narrative and timeline of Brian and Tom’s 12-month lease. Though the short rarely includes visuals outside of the home, the lived-in perspective shots of the apartment box in the viewing experience, focusing the audience eye on all the happenings of an interior life in New York City.

Simply put, at the end of the day, the pure amusement of Rita the Landlord makes the incessant calls worth the the interruptions.

To see more video work from Brian Bolster, visit his Vimeo page, here.

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