What: An elegiac short film showcasing the beauty of New York during a moment of existential crisis.
Who: Writer/director Naz Riahi.
Why we care: It’s a moment every literarily inclined New Yorker knows well. You’re riding the subway when you notice a stranger reading a certain book. Maybe it’s a tome you love, maybe it’s the novel you’re reading right now. Either way, you’re suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to strike up a conversation about that book. Depending on whether the stranger is giving off “Leave me alone, please” vibes, you might even say something, and perhaps briefly become subway friends.
This year, COVID-19 has largely curtailed chance encounters on the subway, even as the desire for that kind of connection reached ecstatic new heights among the city’s terrified residents.
The new short film, Sincerely, Erik, perfectly captures the quiet beauty and loneliness of living in New York during the summer of 2020, an experience that has been misrepresented in media.
A man named Erik (Erik Duron of Left Bank Books, playing himself) selects today’s face mask with surgically gloved hands before leaving his apartment to go work at the bookstore nobody is patronizing. Outside, orchestral music swells over shots of sunshine and wind playing through the trees. Everything that is visually beautiful about New York is present, except for the bustling humanity for which the city has always been famous. With the increased isolation wrought by the virus, though, a lot of people are suddenly reading more than they might have otherwise, and Erik does his best to communicate with as many of those people as possible.
Shot this past June, Sincerely, Erik shows off a side of the city most people didn’t see this summer: what emerged as the wailing ambulances from spring finally subsided. It’s a wistful, bittersweet portrait of the city and a more urgent and convincing counterargument to premature reports of its death than Jerry Seinfeld’s recent op-ed.
Watch the full film below.