The Citizen of the Year is a 2004 comedy brickfilm by J. Watson and his brother. The film is about a man who, in a desperate attempt to become the Citizen of the Year, treats a bum to dinner in a fancy restaurant. It is mainly known for the tongue-in-cheek, cult-like celebration of it as the best brickfilm ever made, with an annual event, Septemberfest, revolving around it.
Balser, a man who lives in a fancy house, greets his neighbor, who lives in a messy shack. Balser informs the neighbor that he was nominated for Citizen of the Year again. The neighbor grudgingly congratulates Balser. Balser starts to ask about the neighbor's parrot, but then notices a trash can full of dead parrots. A father and son insult the neighbor, and a group of people walk by and enthusiastically greet Balser. Balser leaves, and the neighbor, angry, shoots a light on Balser's house. The neighbor decides he wants to compete for Citizen of the Year.
Later that day, the neighbor ignore pleas of help from an old lady and a robbery in progress. The neighbor spots a bum and insults him, but then begrudgingly realizes if he helps the bum, he might be eligible for the award. The neighbor tosses a coin at the bum. The bum scoffs at the neighbor's weak attempt at charity. The neighbor demands the bum vote for him for Citizen of the Year, saying that the bum "owes him." The bum confronts the neighbor, sarcastically saying maybe he'll buy a large meal and a house with the coin.
"Or maybe I'll beat the crap out of you and steal all yo' money!" the bum retorts. Frightened, the neighbor says he'll do anything. The bum asks for a meal. The neighbor tells the bum to put some pants on. The bum steals a pair of pants and is confronted by the store owner, but Balser appears and pays for the pants.
The neighbor takes the bum to a restaurant. Eventually the neighbor yells at the bum, and everyone stares. Despite the neighbor's best efforts to limit the meal to complimentary dinner rolls, the bum orders an expensive meal and urinates at the table. A waiter slips on the urine and the neighbor is asked to leave. The neighbor tries to point out the bum did it, but is thrown out.
One year later, the neighbor is grumbling about how he doesn't want Balser to win Citizen of the Year again. The bum watches the neighbor approach. Balser appears and tells the bum "You know what to do."
Since 2006, an annual celebration of The Citizen of the Year called Septemberfest has taken place within the brickfilming community. This celebration originated from two posts made in the film's release thread by community member Scott Dombert (then known as Rainsford, better known as Dragoon), showering the film with praise (and also misattributing the film to James Morr as a joke).
"KG, this was a great film. I admit that I downloaded the low quality format, so I didn’t see it in its proper glory, but despite the losses to compression, it was still more than evident that this film was well-crafted in terms of visual quality, but moreso in the superb writing (and acting) that I, of course, fully expect from any film you produce.
The characters were funny, but they could possibly have used a couple more touches. The citizen of the year guy should have been a christian. Although that may have made him a carbon copy of Ned Flanders, now that I think about it. The main character… well, to be funnier you have to fit into some sort of stereotype. Believe me. The main character stood on the line between white trash and just a regular old jerk. You could always use some more jokes developing one trait or the other. The bum, well, he was excellent. So beautifully sarcastic. I don’t really even think there’s much room for improvement there.
The writing was superb, especially for a ten minute film. You kept delivering the jokes at a steady enough pace that I didn’t get bored. All the character’s lines were written well, although personally I’d give the citizen of the year guy a couple more funny lines, because audiences naturally begin to despise unfunny goody-two-shoes characters. In fact, this film didn’t have a protaganist, in my mind. The actor(s), and this is important, delivered most lines very well. This is what made the film funny. Some of my favourites were “‘My daddy says your house is like that because you’re a jerk’ ‘I don’t deny it'” and “OUR ANNIVERSARY IS RUINED!”
So far I’ve essentially said that I like everything. Well I don’t. Loser. I didn’t like the ending. Why would the citizen of the year guy do that? It only leads to embarrassment, it doesn’t better the main character in any way, so I think it’s sort of out of character. Besides, there are so many better ways you could have ended this film. I really just don’t think a plot-twist style ending works at all of a comedy of this degree of silliness. I would have had the citizen of the year guy and the main character have another discussion after the restaurant incident to conclude the film, end on a funny joke, and cut to the credits. See, isn’t that better?
Great film all the same, KG.''"
- Scott Dombert; September 10, 2005
"You know, looking back at this film... I realise... one review is not enough.
GopedGuy Wrote: Rainsford are you on drugs, did u just find this movie cause now your sig has something too.
No, no, I am not on drugs. I am on The Citizen of the Year. I am quite addicted. *looks to the sky* Yes, now my sig has something too. There are many reasons why now my sig has something too.
*rousing music begins to play*
My sig has something too because of pride. Pride in humanity. We are a magnificent race: There is war and there is destruction, but upon the ashes of this great inferno is love and there is beauty and there is art. I am referring to The Citizen of the Year.
My sig has something too because of love. I love my fellow man, and I reach across, through the darkness, through the great bumbling grinding gears of politics, I reach across to my fellow man. Nations unite under The Citizen of the Year. Canadians, Americans, Hungarians, Dutchmen, Germans... Nations that once fought each other now stand together under this: The Citizen of the Year.
My sig has something too because of grace. The grace of The Lord, who has endowed this gift upon us: The Citizen of the Year.
Let us stand together in joy. Let us utilise this graceful medium to see deeper into each other's hearts. Let us love, let us cherish, and let us hope. Let us download The Citizen of the Year, the link is in my sig!''"
- Scott Dombert; September 17, 2005
The date of the first post, September 10, is the traditional date of Septemberfest, but it has been extended to cover the entire month of September in later years. Common activities during it generally revolve around referencing and linking to The Citizen of the Year heavily, often by hijacking forum threads and featured film displays. This frequently leads to an angry, confused reaction by those not in on the joke. In early years, it could result in conflict with site management, but in later years, site owners and staff would actively participate.
The parrots in a bin seen in the film are used as a symbol of Septemberfest and feature prominently in promotional material for it, as well as being commonly used in brickfilms to reference Septemberfest and The Citizen of the Year.
The original instigators of Septemberfest referred to themselves as "The Citizens of Awesome". This group consisted of J. Watson, Michael J. Green, Scott Dombert, James Morr and Daniel "Mr. Less" Ernst. They would gather outside of the main brickfilming community (joking that they were "persecuted" for their love of The Citizen of the Year). Their first meeting place was a forum named the 4um. This was later joined by a blog located at CitizenAwesome.com, which featured hype for upcoming Septemberfests, reviews of brickfilms and random humourous pieces. The 4um was compromised and vandalised in July 2007 by Aled Owen and was subsequently deactivated, being replaced by a new forum, the 5um. CitizenAwesome.com was active in 2007 and 2008 and remained online until around 2013.
In 2010, a brickfilming contest, the Septemberfest 2010 Contest was run by Sean Warton to coincide with Septemberfest, although it did not otherwise relate to The Citizen of the Year. In 2015 Sean Warton revived the Septemberfest Contest with a theme that does relate to The Citizen of The Year. A teaser was released on August 27 and the contest ran from September 1st 2015 to October 31st 2015.