We’ve all felt it and we’ve all said it, whether to ourselves or to fellow moviegoers: “The best part was when…” While this is inevitable in processing any filmgoing experience, there is one genre that invites it as a running tally before the picture is even over: the omnibus, or multi-part, feature. The concept of the cinematic corollary to a short-story collection became viable with the advent of sound and before the invention of television, as filmmakers cleaved to the lofty ideal of contributing to a thematic whole—or to the anything-goes element of the equivalent of a pot-luck dinner. Producers liked the genre because it allowed for more stars to be packed onto the poster; actors enjoyed performing palate-cleansers between bigger projects. The format took off as more of an art and documentary form overseas, especially in France where it was known as a portmanteau and filmmakers took on assignments as a point of pride—both professional and national. For our far-reaching retrospective, we’ve selected only those anthology movies consisting of contributions by multiple directors; join us for three, three, three movies in one…or four, four, four…or more, more, more. All aboard the omnibus, for what might just be the ultimate short film festival, featuring over 180 titles.
With thanks to David Zuckerman