The program title promises a cosmopolitan grab bag, and BAM’s second annual shorts compilation doesn’t disappoint. A strong absurdist streak runs through this year’s otherwise disparate selections (greatest hits from the Clermont-Ferrand festival, the world’s largest showcase of mini-movies). In A Stone Left Unturned, Finnish director Maarit Lalli renders a father-son standoff in a series of stoic, quizzical Laurel and Hardy skits, muffling cartoonish black comedy with deliberate pacing and deadpan non sequiturs. In Reinaldo Pinheiro and Edu Ramos’s The Red BMW, a São Paulo shantytown family wins the titular vehicle in a lottery and promptly converts it into a less-than-practical home. Linus Tunstrom’s To Be Continued crosscuts between incongruous fragments to generate a frenzied, meaningless anticipation, presumably as a snarky comment on editing sleight-of-hand.
The animated films are more experimental. Based not on the Mark E. Smith oeuvre but on a short story by Russian surrealist writer Daniil Kharms, Aurel Klimt’s The Fall seems to involve a suicide epidemic—or is it a high-gravity force field?—in dreary Moscow. (The director is a graduate of the distinguished animation department at Prague’s FAMU.) No less eerie and mysterious, German director Andreas Hykade’s Ring of Fire introduces Cronenbergian anatomical mutations into an iconic Western landscape, smuggling genre and gender tweaks into a psychosexual fever dream.