Short films have forever been bridesmaids and seldom brides. Occasionally, you might catch one at the IFC Center or the Landmark Sunshine that successfully diverts the attention of those waiting for the main attraction to start. Even at film festivals, shorts generally serve to warm up the screen before the features.
The World According to Shorts has been an eight-year tradition at BAMcinématek that packages numerous short films into one marketable single ticket. As with the now-defunct Shooting Gallery and Sundance film series, the World According to Shorts offers the excitement of discovery without the hassle of a film festival. Through the years, it has proved to be a sound idea, and has spun off a DVD anthology and merited its latest program, "L'origine de la tendresse and Other Tales," a theatrical run at Cinema Village beginning Friday.
The latest program consists of six short films from France produced between 1999 and 2007. The roster is a veritable potpourri, and includes fiction, documentary, drama, comedy, and horror. The result is a mixed bag, but a couple of entries make the event well worth the time and price of admission.
Felipe Canales's "My Mother: Story of an Immigration" is an adaptation of the photojournalist Farida Hamak's memoir recounting her family's emigration from Algeria to France. Using a slide show of her monochromatic family photo album and voice-over narration, Ms. Hamak tells a heartfelt story about her parents' travails as immigrants, and her own reconciliation with her ethnicity and duality. It's similar to "Persepolis," but only 15 minutes long.
Olivier Bourbeillon's "The Last Day" is an unforgettable documentary chronicling the final day of operation of the Schneider and Co. power hammer no. 125 at the Brest military harbor smithy. The three remaining blacksmiths put on brave faces as they go through their routines, while their voice-over narrations recount their history at the smithy and their contemplation of life after the shutdown. Thanks to Laurent Dailland's graceful camerawork, the steam- and dust-filled smithy comes alive as if it were a haunted house. One wishes some of the feature-length fodder out there would send chills up your spine the way Mr. Bourbeillon's 12-minute short does.